By Sushil Kutty
Learn to put the fear of the enforcement directorate in politicians from the Modi government. Tuesday, July 11, the Supreme Court cancelled the continuing run of ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra. But before celebrations broke, Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted, reminding those “rejoicing” that it was only a change of guard and not the death knell of the enforcement directorate.
But why the need for the Home Minister to butt in if it was only a standard change of guard? There have been plenty of “Mishras” in the top echelons of successive governments. Who can forget Brajesh Mishra who held sway under Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and was in a class of his own? Even Brajesh Mishra was expendable.
So, what is so special about ED director Sanjay Kumar Mishra and why is the Union Home Minister Amit Shah so pissed off at the Supreme Court for aborting Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s dream run? What got Shah’s goat and why the chilling reminder that nothing has changed after the Supreme Court’s directive?
Amit Shah’s interjection reminded detractors of the Modi dispensation that the ‘dna’ of the enforcement directorate would remain the same and that the replacement for Sanjay Kumar Mishra wouldn’t be different – he/she would match Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s talent! Perhaps, the Union Home Minister has a sadistic streak in him. He did not want those running scared of the enforcement directorate to take more than one sigh of relief.
So, the tip to cut short the celebrations. Who the ED director is was not important; whoever gets to replace Sanjay Kumar Mishra will be armed with the same powers. And, then as if to drive home the nail, Shah said whoever takes charge will know what to do with the “rampant corruption of a cozy club of entitled dynasts”.
That shouldn’t surprise anybody. Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot get “dynast” out of his head and his ministers cannot get Prime Minister Narendra Modi out of their thought processes. Listen to any Modi government minister or BJP spokesperson and they are forever singing hosannas for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The sycophancy drips saccharine.
That said, the enforcement directorate takes its orders from the government and it does matter who heads the show because there are all shades of officers. Sanjay Kumar Mishra might have had a special talent which the government does not need to explain to the Supreme Court. Sanjay Kumar Mishra was getting extension after extension for a reason. Anybody with half a brain will know Sanjay Kumar Mishra was the best fit for ED director because he knew this government’s mind, knew exactly what this government wanted done.
At least for that particular reason, Sanjay Kumar Mishra was indispensable and therefore Amit Shah’s disappointment at the Supreme Court ruling spilling out in his own brand of bluster – i.e., what’s the big deal, one ED director is no different from another with a different name?
The reality is, the Modi government did not expect the Supreme Court to abort Sanjay Kumar Mishra’s uninterrupted reign. Shah blamed the “anti-development mindset” for the Supreme Court’s ruling. The Supreme Court had ruled as “illegal” a third extension for Sanjay Kumar Mishra, who now has till July 31 to clear his table and leave.
Amit Shah’s disappointment runs deep because of helplessness. The Union Home Minister’s choice of words told the story. Words like “stop rejoicing”, “delusional”, “corrupt” and “wrong side of the law”. Amit Shah reminded people that “institutions” like the ED were focused on their core objective – “investigate offences of money laundering and violations of foreign exchange laws.”
The reality is, for the election winning juggernaut, which the BJP has transformed into, central investigative agencies, such as the CBI and ED, were crucial to achieve their immediate goals. Long-term objectives could wait but staying in government overrode all priorities and breaking parties for regime change took precedence.
Also true is the simple fact that the Supreme Court ruling carried the wallop of a horse. Especially, when only 10/11 months are left for general elections 2024. The change of guard in the ED poses problems when the preferred tactic is to use the ED to effect a regime change in favour of the BJP.
It is no secret that the BJP specializes in splitting opposition parties using the ED to come to power. The most recent ones being the Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party. The BJP has an unnaturally voracious appetite for co-opting corrupt politicians belonging to opposition parties.
Thus, who the ED director is important. That person will know which “corrupt” minister/MP/MLA of opposition parties are ready for the picking. And it is no secret that the plans to split parties did not end with the NCP. Talk that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal(U) is about to break has been all over the place.
The BJP’s modus operandi is pretty straightforward and simple: split the opposition parties using central investigative agencies, weaken those parties, if possible turn them into BJP allies and then get a full majority in 2024. If that’s the plan, an independent head of the enforcement directorate could be the end of days for the Modi government. (IPA Service)