Election campaigns in India are no longer free and fair. There is no level playing field for the opposition parties s against the ruling BJP. Dominant share of funds is collected by the BJP under electoral bond scheme chiefly on account of its being privileged ruling political party. Opposition just can’t match the BJP in election campaigns due to scarcity of funds. Numerous hurdles are being put before opposition leaders through a strategy for raiding, summoning, and arresting them so that they may not effectively campaigns against PM Narendra Modi.
“ED targeting leaders of almost all political parties in opposition,” says a prominent opposition leader, a senior advocate and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal in his post on X. “ED and denial of bail to leaders has become a political weapon in the hands of the government. Time for courts to wake up to the blatant misuse of PMLA.”
His post on X has come just after AAP leader and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal was summoned by ED in Delhi liquor case. Earlier, when the Supreme Court denied bail to Delhi’s former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Sibal had said that the INDIA block must speak in one voice as all opposition leaders were being targeted. “Send them to jail, proof can come later,” seems to be the motto.
It should be noted that ED has summoned AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal at a time when five states of the country are going to poll this month. It is time for any political party or leader to give full time to their election campaigns without any diversion. Arvind Kejriwal has boldly skipped the summon for November 2, and headed for pre scheduled election campaigns. However, he and his party were even denied permission for poll rally in Singrauli, in Madhya Pradesh. It necessitated AAP leaders to hold roadshow. It should also be noted that Madhya Pradesh is ruled by BJP, and they are trying hard to retain power in the state.
Here back in Delhi, another AAP leader and minister in the state Raaj Kumar Anand’s home and 11 other premises have been raided in money laundering case. Earlier, ED had already arrested two key ministers and AAP leaders Satyendar Jain and Manish Sisodia. AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh was also arrested. BJP leaders are saying that now is the turn of Arvind Kejriwal to be arrested.
AAP is one of the chief opposition political parties challenging the clout of PM Narendra Modi and BJP in Delhi. In such a situation, Kapil Sibal’s statement cannot be undermined that the ED actions and denial of bail to leaders have become “political weapon” in the hands of the government. During the ongoing elections in the five states, ED has been continuously raiding opposition leaders and their associates in old cases, and surprisingly these have nothing to do with election related offences. It gives rise to the suspicion that the chief interest of the Central government led by PM Modi is to create hurdles before the opposition so that they cannot effectively take part in election campaigns against them.
TMC and AAP have accused the BJP of even ‘conspiring to arrest opposition leaders before 2024 polls.” West Bengal CM and TMC leader Mamata Banerjee has said, “Before next year’s elections, they (BJP) are trying to gag the voice of all opposition parties. They are planning to arrest all opposition leaders before the polls so that they can vote for themselves in an empty country. They are hatching a conspiracy.” She also accused that Central government has been spying the opposition leaders and their activities.
AAP leader Raghav Chadha has accused the BJP Central leadership that they are targeting top INDIA alliance leader ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. At a press conference in the Delhi, he said that since 2014, about 95 per cent cases registered by the Central investigating agencies have been against opposition leaders. He said that ED-CBI have filed cases against 125 influential leaders between 2014-2022, out of them 118 were leaders of opposition political parties.
“Now after the formation of the INDIA alliance, the BJP is rattled. We have learnt from sources that they have hatched a plan to target top leaders from the INDIA alliance. The first arrest in this plan will be of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal,” AAP leader Raghav Chadha has claimed.”If you’d put the INDIA alliance top leadership or party presidents behind bars, then only BJP will run in the race and win solely…A strategy was formed along these lines in which Central agencies are going to do the first arrest of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal.”
The issue of political misuse of Central investigating agencies has also been brought by the opposition before the Supreme Court of India. Supreme court is presently hearing the petitions challenging Electoral bond scheme, and also have agreed to hear several petitions against misuse of ED. On several occasions SC had also criticised ED for their highhandedness and their illegal actions. Does ED believe that only opposition leaders deserve action, and BJP leaders or their associates are above board? If so, is it justifiable? What is then the equality before law, a guarantee to the citizens of India provided under the Constitution? Its wakeup call for everyone who believe in the Constitutional values of Indian democracy. (IPA Service)