By Arun Srivastava
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised the people of India of having good days, is himself passing through his worst days. Bizarre are the ways in which the Income Tax Department has searched this week the premises of three leading bodies, Centre for Policy Research (CPR), OxFam India and the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation. The searches were aimed at coercing the managements of these independent bodies to toe the official line of the saffrons. The Sangh close media portals have been campaigning for long against these three bodies saying their reports are biased against theBJP.
The coordinated operations were carried out at over 110 locations in Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and some other states against certain registered unrecognized political parties and their alleged financial transactions, they said. Some other instances of political funding through alleged illegal means are also being investigated as part of the action, they said.
Modi and his aides nurse the impression that these organisations have been working against him. CPR has been the think tank on policy matters. Its former chairman Pratapbhanu Mehta has been a known critic of Modi. As per its website, CPR has been recognised as a not-for-profit society by the Government of India. All contributions to it are, therefore, tax-exempt. “CPR receives grants from a variety of domestic and international sources, including foundations, corporate philanthropy, governments, and multilateral agencies,” it says, adding that “a full accounting of annual finances and grants” is available on the website.
The raids on Centre for Policy Research (CPR), Oxfam India and media foundation are said to be part of a probe related to alleged FCRA contravention in funds received by them. The explanation that is being given by the agency is all NGOs receiving foreign funds have to be registered under the FCRA. It is fine. But why IT refrained from taking action them so far? There must have been some tenable reason. Will the IT put the reasons in public domain? What went wrong now? The only plausible reason is; the Modi government intends to send the message to the intelligentsia and academics of the country and also the civil societies not to support the opposition in their crusade against the BJP and his own rule.
Already the government has cancelled FCRA registration of nearly 1,900 NGOs for violating various provisions of law in the last five years. There were 22,762 FCRA-registered organisations till December-end 2021. The houses of the Rajasthan’s Minister of State for Home Rajendra Yadav and his family members were also raided by the IT. This is clearly a move to ensure that the Rajasthan police is kept under check. The family members of Yadav are in the business of manufacturing bags for fertilisers, grains, and cement. When questioned the IT officers told him that the central government has sent them.
The BJP leaders have been using every available mode of instrument to force the opponents to fall in line and to stop the channel of fund. The only motive behind these actions is to starve the opponents. Political aides and a section of the bureaucrats have Modi with the information that these bodies have been channelizing their funds to some political parties.
The Election Commission has also suddenly become activated. Recently it struck off at least 198 parties from its list of registered unrecognised political parties after they were found non-existent during physical verification. No doubt such parties need to be blacklisted and their names removed from the list. But the question arises why so far the Commission has been sleeping on the file about the need to take action and delist them. What made the EC to recommend for their deletion from the list? Significantly the EC announced that it was taking action against more than 2,100 entities, categorised as registered unrecognised political parties for flouting rules and election laws, including those related to filing of monetary contributions, failing to update their address and names of office bearers. It had said some of these parties were indulging in “serious” financial impropriety.
Apart from these actions, the ED, CBI and IT have started fresh round of raids on the houses and offices of political leaders. Only a couple of days house and office of Moloy Ghatak a cabinet minister in Mamata government was raided by CBI and IT. Mamata reacting to the raid said; “BJP thinks they can threaten us with CBI and ED. The more they pursue such tricks, the more they will get closer to defeat in next year’s Panchayat election and 2024 Lok Sabha polls”. She even slammed a section of media for unleashing a malicious campaign against her and her party leaders following the arrest of senior leaders Partha Chatterjee and Anubrata Mondal by central agencies in different cases.
The desperation to retain the power has turned Modi and Amit Shah restless. While these raids are being conducted, Amit Shah has directed the Union Ministers to focus on rural areas. They have to focus on at least 144Lok Sabha constituencies till the 2024 election and ensure that the party wins those seats. It also plans to carry out surveys and hold strategy meetings at regular intervals. The leadership is fear stricken of the Bharat Jodo Yatra that they are in no mood to take any chance. The thrust is on identifying new areas and constituencies as the leadership fears loss of seats in traditional strongholds in the heartland states.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra is likely to impact at least 133 Lok Sabha falling in the path of the rally. Already the ground reports emanating from the states point out that the people have turned receptive to Rahul’s call. This is certainly a dangerous sign for Modi and Shah. The situation in Bihar and UP has been complicated more in the recent days with the state BJP leaders indulging in factional feuds. Realising the depressive mood that grips the national leaders, some leaders in these two states are even contemplating to cross over. Already Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is having talks with a few dalit leaders of BJP in Uttar Pradesh. In Karnataka, the BJP is facing the worst anger of the citizensincludingtheirown supportersafter the failure of the administration in restoring normalcy after rains. Time is turning bad for the Sangh Parivar making the leaders panicky. (IPA Service)