DEATH OF A DEMOCRACY!

By Rajan Narayan

THE Income Tax Department and the Enforcement Directorate have backed out. The Income Tax Department told the Supreme Court that it was not taking any action on the income tax notices served for the Congress party. It may be recalled that the income tax department has been serving thousands of crores of Income Tax notices to the Congress party. The Income Tax department has also frozen the accounts of the Congress party. The IT demand for the Congress party grew to Rs3567 crore on Saturday, March 30 more than 2.5 times its cash and assets declared on March 23, 2024. The Income Tax department told the SC that it would not take any action on the notices and that it fix the next hearing to July 24. The elections are expected to be completed by June. Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate has told the local court that it does not require custody any longer of Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal has now been sent to judicial custody in the Tihar jail. Judicial custody means that the ED cannot harass Arvind Kejriwal. It is also a sign that the ED has backed down and will not seek custody till the elections are over. The adverse publicity in the international press has forced Narendra Modi to back down.
Ever since the declaration of the poll schedule, all departments of the government have come under the Election Commission of India. Any coercive action against political parties after the poll schedule has been announced is making a mockery of democracy. Even the United Nations has warned the Narendra Modi government about creating a level playing field in the political scenario of a democracy.
There have been international protests against the manner in which the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal has been detained by the Enforcement Directorate. It may be recalled that the AAP president was detained on the charges of planning the liquor excise scam on March 21, 2024. Though the Modi government claims that lots of money has been kicked back to AAP leaders, no money trail has been established.

WHERE IS THE MONEY?
ARVIND Kejriwal has repeatedly asked, “Where is the money?” In the open court, Kejriwal alleged that the person who had turned approver had been given Rs50 crore worth of electoral bonds by the BJP. Kejriwal’s lawyer insists that the Enforcement Directorate has not produced any evidence. The Enforcement Directorate is relying on the claims of the hawala traders on their charge that money from the liquor scam was diverted to the last assembly elections in 2022.
The president of the state AAP unit in Goa, Amit Parulekar, has been questioned by the ED. Kejriwal’s wife Sunita has launched a campaign to liberate Kejriwal. Sunita has asked everyone who believes in democracy to send their “aashirwad” or blessings to Arvind Kejriwal. There was a massive protest by the INDI Alliance and Opposition groups against the IT raids on the Congress and arrest of Arvind Kejriwal on March 31, 2024.
WE recall that in the run-up to the election, the BJP has tried to split the Opposition. In Bihar Nitish Kumar was threatened and forced to join the BJP. Historically, the Shiv Sena has been with the BJP. This time the Shiv Sena has been split. Uddhav Thackeray has been isolated. The rebel faction is supporting the BJP. Similarly, the NCP of Sharad Pawar has also been attacked by the BJP. Ajit Pawar, the nephew of Sharad Pawar, has virtually joined the BJP. Both the original Shiv Sena and the NCP have lost their party symbols.
In several states in the country, the BJP has bought up opposition MLAs. In MP and Haryana, the BJP encouraged local MLAs to revolt during the Rajya Sabha elections. The BJP has been trying to de-stabilize the AAP-ruled Punjab government.

REMEMBER EIGHT DEFECTORS?
IN Goa it may be recalled that eight Congress MLAs defected to the BJP. Of them Alexio Sequiera has even been included in the BJP cabinet. There are charges that the BJP is sabotaging the efforts of the Congress to put up candidates for the two parliamentary seats in Goa.
The BJP is trying to make sure that its candidate for south Goa, Pallavi Dempo, gets elected without much opposition. The Congress party in Goa is being accused of match-fixing. It would have been logical to nominate Francisco Sardinha, who is the second MP. Sardinha has repeatedly staked his claim to the south Goa parliamentary seat. Sardinha says he can win the election for the Congress if he is selected again. Hasn’t he always done so?
However, it looks like Sardinha’s claim has been ignored. The state Congress president Amit Patkar is reportedly seeking the ticket for south Goa for himself. Amit Patkar is also from Curchorem, Sardinha’s assembly constituency. Girish Chodankar was a favored candidate for south Goa. Girish is the OBC candidate.
But the present office bearers are against Girish. Girish, however, has the support of Rahul Gandhi. Meanwhile there is a movement of AAP workers demanding that the ticket should go to Capt Venzy Veigas, the AAP MLA from Benaulim. Perhaps if Arvind Kejriwal was not in custody he may have played a very active role in Goa politics.

ED/IT TERROR
THERE cannot be free and fair election if the Opposition parties are not allowed to campaign. The terror unleashed by the ED and the IT department must stop. The CBI must be asked to suspend cases against political leaders. It has now been proved that companies who contributed electoral bonds to the BJP got their rewards. One of the major beneficiaries of the electoral bonds was Sunil Bharti Mittal of Airtel. Mittal is reported to have “gifted” Rs150 crore worth of bonds to the BJP. The spectrum auction policy was changed for the benefit of Mittal.
There are indications that the Jindal group got coal and mining licenses in exchange for their “donations” to the BJP. In Goa there are charges that Pallavi Dempo was given the ticket for South Goa in exchange for the Dempo group’s contribution of Rs1.35 crore to the BJP through electoral bonds.
In the case of the majority of those who “bought” electoral bonds the history is of ED terrorizing them. After they donated electoral bonds to BJP the ED stopped their raids. Till the elections are declared in July the IT department and the CBI must be brought under the control of the ECI.
Only the Supreme Court can save democracy in the country. That the 2024 elections is about money power was dramatized by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman. Nirmala rejected the offer of the BJP ticket to contest the election. Nirmala claimed that she did not have the money to fight the Lok Sabha election. BJP has chosen candidates who can finance their own election. Not that the BJP is short of funds.

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