By Sushil Kutty
What’s with the Modi Government, why are AAP leaders being arrested? After Satyendar Jain, it could be Manish Sisodia. ‘Satyendar’ translates to ‘honesty’, the gospel ‘truth’. Yet, the enforcement directorate arrests Satyendar, health minister in the Delhi Government, and architect of the famed “mohalla clinics”. Kejriwal worried Thursday about the likely arrest of the “honest to a fault”, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who has, unafraid of the consequences, taken charge of Satyendar’s “mohalla clinics.”
Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency and the entire lot of Opposition leaders were placed under arrest. But there was honour in being arrested and incarcerated, then. Forty-five years later, Kejriwal is asking the Modi Government to give up the pretence and place all AAP leaders behind bars, and be done with it.
Kejriwal’s wish will remain a wish. For, if there’s an undeclared Emergency, nothing would be done to remind people of the Emergency. The Prime Minister has a thick skin, but he’s also ultra-sensitive to criticism that he is authoritarian “like Mrs. Gandhi’.
Modi would rather call it a day with ‘Sabka Saath-Sabka Vikas-Sabka Prayas-Sabka Vishwas’ on his lips.
Using the Mughals for analogy, Narendra Modi would rather he reminded people of Dara Shikoh, than of Aurangzeb. With 41 per cent of the Hindu electorate voting Modi, the Prime Minister wouldn’t be singing in the bathroom, yet. The electoral mood in 2024 must surely be the big worry roiling him. The BJP’s electoral victories in four out of five states hasn’t enthused party rank and file.
There’s a fear of the AAP upstaging the BJP in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat assembly elections. The Aam Aadmi Party’s massive Punjab victory rattled the BJP. And it does not want an encore in the other states going to polls during what is left of 2022, and in 2023.
The world’ largest political party also fears a 2024 return of the Congress. Nothing remains constant for forever, and by 2024, lots will have changed. But in the short-term, Kejriwal’s AAP can list BJP on its side. And the Congress is no walkover in many areas outside UP & Bihar.
That said, the thread that links AAP and Congress is that both parties are being targeted for “corruption”. After a decade, the BJP led by Narendra Modi wants to make corruption a potent electoral issue all over again. Then, it was the “corruption in the UPA”; now, it’s the “corruption in AAP, and in the Congress.”
For eight years, the enforcement directorate sat like the proverbial cobra on the National Herald case; at one time even giving it up as futile and empty of substance. But a forced change of guard at the ED, and the cobra has fresh poison. So, the National Herald case is brought back with a vengeance!
That is what the Opposition is calling it revenge—ED’s summons to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Apparently, questionnaires have been prepared and the mother-son pair will be put through the wringer using the classic interrogation method of being confronted with their answers given to the same questions.
Is it a coincidence that every politician in the ED net is being charged under PMLA, the money laundering act? From Anil Deshmukh to Nawab Malik; Sonia Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi; Satyendar Jain to possibly Manish Sisodia if he too is arrested.
AAP is still the new kid on the block, challenging the BJP’s hegemony, in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, but also threatening to unseat the BJP from Karnataka. Besides, unlike the BJP, the AAP has in its DNA the mojo to make a winning start in Kerala, too.
However, the Congress continues to be the only real Opposition the BJP fears. Not Arvind Kejriwal or Mamata Banerjee, but Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, the Congress! Modi wants to do the greatest damage to the Congress alone, before 2024. Therefore, the coup de grace with the National Herald, which is irrevocably linked to the Congress and the Freedom Struggle.
The Congress believes the National Herald case is “weird”, one which will sink unheralded. A case of alleged money-laundering with no money in the game! You can’t but agree with Congress leader P Chidambaram that “money-laundering without money is like alleging purse snatching without a purse…like swimming in a pool that had no water.” Like lodging a case on the Gyanvapi mosque with the Places of Worship Act 1991 active, alive and kicking! (IPA Service)