As India moves closer to the Lok Sabha election 2024, the number of raids on, arrests of, and seizures from the leaders of political parties in opposition has increased. Central agencies such as CBI, ED, NIA, and the Department of Income Tax have become super active along with others, such as Delhi Police, under the Union Government. The offences registered are typically under draconian laws, such as PMLA and UAPA, which do not give the accused persons even the status of an accused under CrPC enabling the government to put them behind bar even without evidence against them denying fair trial and justice. Such a ruthless suppression of the opposition is being veiled under legal procedure, obviously for the gaining legitimacy in eyes of the people.
We have just heard the Bench of the Supreme Court of India observing that “Chain of evidence was not fully established” and there was no actual evidence against AAP leader Manish Sisodia arrested under PMLA that attract this act. The Bench pulled up ED officials for several other lacunae in the excise scam case in which Manish Sisodia was arrested and put behind the bar. Another AAP leader Satyendra Jain is also behind the bar for money laundering under PMLA. Both the leaders, who were ministers in the AAP government in Delhi, have been put into jail for a long time.
Now, Rajya Sabha MP from AAP, Sanjay Singh has been arrested in the excise scam case. BJP leaders has now indirectly threatened of arrest of AAP chief and the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, who have been put under scanner in several cases including the excise scam and house renovation scam. If it happens, the entire AAP leadership and the party would be politically finished. The merit of the cases against them registered by CBI and ED will only be known to the people when the final judgement would come, but until then PM Narendra Modi and his BJP will have no political challenge from AAP. Many cases have been registered against other AAP leaders in Delhi.
It should be noted that AAP has emerged as chief threat to BJP in Delhi for about a decade, and has rendered humiliating defeat to BJP in two Vidhan Sabha elections and the last MCD election. AAP has been expanding fast, had won Punjab election in 2022 and formed its government, and have made inroads even in Gujarat against BJP considered to be PM Modi’s stronghold where people believed him invincible. AAP is now part of opposition INDIA alliance, and if they put joint candidates against the BJP candidates in Delhi and Gujarat, BJP may find itself in trouble.
It is not only AAP, but also several other political parties are braving the raids, arrests, and seizures. PM Modi and Union Minister of Home Amit Shah have been repeatedly declaring their intent to destroy “corruption” and “terror” ecosystems. Money laundering, anti-India activities, and terror-funding are the three major offences under which cases are being registered only shows the “ruthlessness”, the word Amit Shah has just used the other day. Linking to money laundering, terror networks, and anti-India activities by PM Modi is noteworthy. While speaking in Chhattisgarh rally he alleged even Congress of links with and guided by “naxals” ie Left Wing extremists, and his party has linked Rahul Gandhi with some foreign national engaged in “anti-India” activity.
Several Congress leaders are already facing CBI and ED cases which included former Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi has also several cases registered against them, which are at several stages in courts.
In West Bengal, TMC leaders are target, which included Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee. ED has registered a case against Abhishek Banerjee in the multi-crore recruitment scam in schools. Another Bengal Minister for Food Rathin Ghosh has also been raided this week on similar charges.
In Jharkhand, JMM leader and Chief Minister Hemant Soren is facing an ED case on money laundering. There are cases against former RJD leader Laloo Yadav and his son Tejasvi Yadav, who is presently Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar.
DMK MPs and ministers have also become target of Central agencies. Income Tax Department have yesterday raided former Union Minister and DMK MP Jagathrakshakan’s house and several other premises. Earlier ED had arrested DMK minister Senthil Balaji. ED has also said that the raids at the premises of DMK minister K Ponmudi and his son revealed incriminating documents.
Raids are being conducted on leaders of the national and regional political parties across India. These are apart from the raids on registered political parties that are alleged to have been engaged in scams and tax evasion.
It has already been submitted by the opposition political parties in the Supreme Court of India that the cases against the opposition leaders have increase up to 95 per cent of the total cases registered by CBI against political leaders since 2014, and 85 per cent by ED.
ED’s net had several prominent leaders across the opposition one year before which included Congress (24), TMC (19), NCP (11), Shiv Sena (8), DMK (6), BJD (6), RJD (5), BSP (5), SP (5), TDP (5), AAP (3), INLD (3), YSRCP (3), CPM (2), NC (2), PDP (2), Ind (2), AIADMK (1), MNS (1), SBSP (1) and TRS (1). The increased action by ED shows the number might have substantially risen. These all show a pattern.
In election bound states, raids by central agency have increased. CBI and ED raided several places in Telangana and Hyderabad. Telangana Chief Minister’s daughter K Kavita have been summoned in Delhi liquor scam and Minister Gangula Kamalakar is also in Central agencies’ net on money laundering. ED, IT, and CBI raids have been sending shivers down the spine of the ruling BRS, formerly TRS.
ED have recently conducted raids on opposition leaders and their associates in poll bound Chhattisgarh too. Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has alleged that the raids were politically motivated. Raids were also conducted by CBI and ED against several political leaders and their associates in Rajasthan in several cases of money laundering, which included Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s brother in ‘diversion of fertilisers’ case.
Opposition leaders have alleged ruthless political suppress, while the PM and Union Home Minister says they are committed to root out the entire ecosystem of corruption, terror, and anti-India activities. Only the judiciary can bring out the truth, or else there would be death of democracy in the country. (IPA Service)