By Arun Srivastava
There is a famous Sanskrit adage, “Ati Barjayet”; meaning excess is forbidden. But looking at the practices and politics of Narendra Modi it could safely be construed, though he claims to follow principles of Sanatan Dharma and Hindutva that it does not apply to him. Else instead of pursuing wisdom of political empathy, he must not have resorted to ruthless use of state power to suppress the opposition voice.
Lord Krishna in Mahabharat had described it as the sign of the weakness of the ruler and manifestation of intensifying political contradictions. Raids by the ED, CBI and LIC are not new. What is really distressing is, raids by these agencies on the premises of his political opponents and putting them in jails has been institutionalised. It has acquired ugly dimension. It appears that he has come to believe that coercion and repression is the only way for their survival and throttling the voice of dissent. His style of governance simply reinforces the impression that Modi has taken it for guaranteed that people and politicians of the country are spineless and are scared of defying the rule of baton. He would continue to rule for decades.
Usually a political dispensation refrains from antagonising the people, the voters, just ahead of the election. A hostile electorate would prove to be detrimental to the electoral interest of the party. But Modi and Shah are unfazed of the public reaction and their retaliation. They are sure that the catchphrase of Hindutva and nationalism and would do miracle. Their not being bothered of the common peoples’ approach is also borne out of the fact that are sure of winning the election with the RSS taking command.
With 2024 Lok Sabha knocking at the door, Modi and Amit Shah have become more aggressive. Arrest of dy chief minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia by CBI is a case in point. Incidentally CBI does not have clinching evidences against him, but even then he has been put in jail. Even if the CBI fails to prove its charges against him in the court, his stay in jail would serve their purpose. Indeed strange the ED arrested Sisodia in connection with money-laundering probe in the now-scrapped excise policy just a day before a Delhi court is scheduled to hear his bail application in the CBI case. It simply implied that the CBI and ED are out to harass him notwithstanding the rule of law and personal liberty are the cornerstones of India’s criminal justice system
In this regard the letter from Tamil Nadu CM M K Stalin to Modi is worth mentioning; “I would like to remind you that misuse of investigating agencies and constitutional offices including that of office of Governor can never strengthen the vibrant democracy. One can notice a fact that in the last nine years, the independence of investigating agencies has been robbed wherever the interest of the party in power at the Centre is involved. These agencies have been misused mercilessly and repeatedly as a weapon of political vendetta only against the political leaders of the opposition parties. Adulterated allegations bereft of facts have become the tool for such blatant misuse of power”.
Veteran Kashmir leader Farooq Abdulla was put under house arrest. He was released after seven-month detention. Farooq was among thousands of Kashmiri leaders put under house arrest a day before the disputed region was stripped of its semi-autonomous status. The Modi government deployed tens of thousands of troops to quell unrest and enforced a crackdown on communications. A resolution of the political parties even warned that “democratic dissent is being muzzled” in the state. A five-time chief minister of Kashmir, Abdullah was widely considered to be a “pro-India” politician in the state.
CM Raveendran, Additional Private Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was summoned by the ED based on the statements by M Sivashankar IAS, ex Principal Secretary to Kerala CM, who is at present in ED custody. Vijayan has stood by his APS: “The state government has no doubts about him. Certain sections may fancy something but there is nothing beyond that.” It is worth mentioning that BJP has already launched a war against Vijayan and has been using all weapons at its command to unsettle him.
Significantly ED had told the Supreme Court that the Kerala government turned against it in the gold smuggling case after the involvement of the former principal secretary to CM came to light. But what it has to say about its action of putting Samana editor Sanjay Rout in jail slapping a case of money laundering? The PMLA court was scathing in its observation about the ED probe in the Patrawala Chawl case, and held that Raut had been arrested illegally “for no reason.” Raut spent a hundred days in jail. ED had charged Raut of being the prime accused. It had claimed that Raut, who is also Shiv Sena MP was actually the main conspirator and that Pravin Raut was merely his proxy.
As if this was not enough it had tried to implicate veteran Sharad Pawar in the case. Nevertheless the court rejected ED’s claim that the then Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and former chief minister late Vilasrao Deshmukh were involved in the Patra Chawl case. In fact the special PMLA court pulled up ED for not arresting the prime culprits , Rakesh Kumar Wadhawan and Sarang Wadhawan.
Only on March 9 ED summoned K Kavita, MLC, the daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao for questioning in connection with alleged Delhi excise policy scam. She has been summoned based on the statement of Arun Pillai a Hyderabad businessman who ws recently arrested in the case. Pillai has told ED that he was a benami of Kavitha in the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam. Kavitha had already been questioned by the CBI in December 2022 in the same case. The ED had filed its first chargesheet in the case last year and has so far undertaken nearly 200 search operations.
Senior leaders of BRS however confide that KCR’s move to unite the opposition parties has been the primary reason for ED initiating action against Kavita. Emphasising that ED has been resorting to the tactics of “case connection”(implicating a person randomly in any case) they assert that this is a vindictive stance. Kavita however asserted that under the leadership of KCR, they will continue to fight to expose the BJP’s failures and raise voice for a brighter and better future for India. Telangana would “never bow before” the anti-people regime in Delhi, she added.
It is certainly not a coincident that on the day Anubrata Mandal, a close confidant of Mamata Banerjee, chief of the Birbhum district TMC, was shifted to Delhi at the insistence of ED for interrogation, the CBI grilled the ailing RJD supremo Lalu Yadav for more than four hours at his daughter’s place in Delhi where he is recuperating post his Kidney transplantation.
Apparently there is no commonality between the two incidents. The nature of the crimes for which they were needed by ED and CBI, are poles apart. Lalu has been framed in job for land scam. The only common umbilical cord that existed between them was both of them represented two opposition parties which are committed to defeat Narendra Modi in the 2024 Lok Sabha election and deprive him of the opportunity to become the prime minister for the third time.
Unrelenting in its mission to intimidate the opposition leaders, the ED on Friday raided Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav’s Delhi home in the land-for-jobs case. It also conducted searches at the premises of Lalu Yadav’s three daughters Ragini Yadav, Chanda Yadav and Hema Yadav and former RJD MLA Abu Dojana in connection with a money laundering investigation into the land for jobs ‘scam’ case.
It is said that Narendra Modi and Amit Shah who have been resorting to this tactics to force Lalu and Mamata drop their crusade against Modi. If the sources are to be relied CBI is working on the plan to arrest Lalu. It is also planning to lay its hand on Mamata through Mandal. ED could well have interrogated Mandal in Calcutta but it insisted to transport him to Delhi. Apprehensions are being cast at the intentions of ED. With Calcutta High Court hearing the complaint against Mandal, the ED was in a comfortable state.
The legal and political circles are busy decoding the obstinacy of the ED. It is worth mentioning that Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, the second man in command in TMC has already been at the radar of ED and the agency. He has been questioned him twice in Delhi. Earlier Abhishek’s wife Rujira Banerjee was summoned by ED in Calcutta. She was grilled for about six hours. Apprehensions are also being expressed that ED during its interrogation of Mandal may extract a confessional statement from him for implicating Mamata in the case.
Nevertheless the immediate task assigned to ED and CBI has been to exert pressure onLalu and Mamata to make them retreat. ED and CBI have become extremely proactive with TMC and RJD vowing to ensure Modi’s defeat. One development is quite intriguing; why the Modi government has adopted tough stance towards Mamata even after her maintaining distance from Rahul Gandhi and Nitish Kumar’s move to bring the entire opposition on one common platform.
Nonetheless Rohini Acharya Singapore based daughter of Lalu Prasad, who had donated her kidney to him is apprehensive of the security and safety of her father. In a warning a distraught daughter, did not mince words in saying that the ruling dispensation at the Centre was inflicting “harassment” on the ailing septuagenarian. This is indeed a serious allegation.
Rohini had also tweeted expressing her fear that the BJP was plotting to imprison Lalu Prasad and Tejashwi. “Spread the message among the people that the BJP is conspiring like the British rulers to imprison Lalu and Tejashwi,” Rohini said. A day earlier, Rabri’s younger son and Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi and eight other Opposition leaders had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi protesting the alleged misuse of central investigative agencies against the BJP’s political opponents. On March 10, K Kabita, a BRS leader and daughter of Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao sat on a dharna in Delhi. She had been summoned by ED for the excise fraud case involving the Delhi deputy CM Manish Sisodia who has been arrested. 12 opposition parties have agreed to stand by her.
With the Lok Sabha polls approaching, the raids are simultaneously being conducted by the central agencies against the leading opposition leaders and this will continue as a part of a strategy till the Lok Sabha elections are over in May 2024. Time has come for the opposition parties to join their hands to fight this vindictive policy of the Narendra Modi government to use the central agencies to serve his party’s political interests. (IPA Service)