Save Our Democracy! THE MODIGATE! By Aravind Bhatikar

“Unka Sankalp, Vipareet Bharat”
“Sab ka naash, Sab ka Vinaash”

April 13, 2024

By Aravind Bhatikar

THE Electoral Bond scam has revealed how the scheme was utilized by the BJP to collect funds from business establishments by subjecting those to raids and other types of coercion from government regulatory agencies. Researchers of News Laundry, News Minute, Scroll, etc, reportedly revealed that 33 business establishments between 2018 to 2023 donated about Rs2,400 crore to the BJP through electoral bonds, after these establishments were raided. The raided establishments also funded other political parties in various states where the parties were in power.
Researchers of “The Hindu” revealed recently that 45 business establishments, between 2018 and 2023, donated through electoral bonds huge amounts to the BJP and that business establishments which donated are either incurring losses for the previous many years or had donated amounts far in excess of profits earned. The business establishments with zero profits could either be shell companies set up abroad or in India by Indian or foreign corporates to convert their “black money” into “white” or to maintain donation secrecy. These shell companies could even have security implications for our country.
Opposition parties have been repeatedly alleging that the BJP government has pressurized the banking system to write off about Rs16 lakh crore loans of corporates during the last 10 years. It is also a well known fact that the BJP government has given huge tax concessions to corporates on various pretexts. A nexus is yet to be established between corporate loans written off and electoral bond donations by the beneficiaries; a nexus also needs to be established between tax concessions to the corporates and electoral bond donations to the BJP by the beneficiary companies.
It is also necessary to investigate the affairs of companies which have donated huge amounts to the BJP despite incurring losses and the affairs of companies whose donations are far in excess of their small profits.
The INDIA block should vigorously pursue a plea with the Supreme Court to set up a special investigation team to dig into all the above aspects. There is still time for the electoral bond scam to be used as the most important issue for the electorate in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.
Another important issue which is not fully explained to the voters is the Pulwama terrorist attack and the administrative failure of the BJP government surrounding the attack. Satyapal Malik, the former governor of Jammu & Kashmir, Goa and Meghalaya, fully exposed the failure in an interview to Karan Thapar on “The Wire.”
The CRPF had requested the Defense ministry to make available four aircrafts to transport jawans in the J&K sector. The Defense ministry did not accede to the request. When Satyapal Malik informed Modi that the failure of Defense ministry to provide four aircrafts to the CRPF was the main reason for the death of 40 jawans, Modi asked Satyapal Malik to maintain silence on the issue. Before talking to Modi, however, Satyapal Malik’s allegation was in public domain since he had already talked to two TV channels on the issue.
Bihar, UP, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are known to be the most important recruitment grounds for army and para-military forces of the country. Satyapal Malik’s revelations should have sparked off widespread anger against the BJP government. There was no wave against the Modi-Shah leadership, only a few ripples.
Satyapal Malik also pointed out that such heavy movements of defense or para-military forces are preceded by sanitizing the approaches to main roads. There was no such “sanitization” before the movement of the CRPF convoy.
There should have been an enquiry into the failure of the Defense ministry to provide necessary aircraft to the CRPF. No such enquiry seems to have taken place or if it has, the results of the enquiry are not available in public domain.
The issues around the Pulwama tragedy have not been sufficiently highlighted by the INDIA bloc. This issue is important for the BIMARU states. Derek O’Brien of the Trinamool Congress spoke on the issue during the Ramlila Maidan rally of INDIA block March 31 but nothing more happened.
Will the INDIA bloc leaders get their act together and strive to create the much needed wave against the Modi-Shah government for their failure in Pulwama and their betrayal of the nation in the electoral bond scam?

April 17, 2024

ARTICLE 324 of the Constitution of India stipulates that the superintendence, direction and control of elections to Lok Sabha and state assemblies, etc, shall vest in the Election Commission of India. The Chief Election Commissioner and other Commissioners, as provided in the relevant law, are appointed by the president of India. The Election Commission of India is thus a Constitutional body and the Constitutional protection given to the Chief Election Commissioner is of the level of a judge of the Supreme Court.
The All India Services (AIS) Rules stipulate the following:
• Rule 3(1A)(ii) Every member of the Service shall maintain political neutrality.
• Rule 3(2B)(i) Commit himself to and uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and democratic values.
• Rule 3(2B)(xi) maintain discipline in the discharge of his duties and be liable to implement the lawful orders duly communicated to him.
IAS officers are duty bound not only to maintain political neutrality but also have the freedom not to carry out unlawful orders of their controlling authorities. The responsibility resting on their shoulders and the freedom they enjoy (if they choose to) is firstly, because of the Conduct Rules applicable to them and secondly, because they are appointed to work in a Constitutional body by the president of India. Their allegiance should be to the Constitution and to the president of India and not to the ruling political party or the government of the day.
The Modi government, during the last 10 years of its rule, has weakened and mutiliated institutions which are looked upon as the strong pillars of our parliamentary democracy. The strength and effectiveness of these institutions depend on the character and integrity of officials heading these institutions. The Election Commission, unfortunately, is one such Constitutional instrument which seems to have lost its effectiveness because of the weak leadership provided by the IAS officers who are currently posted as election commissioners.
The helpless, in effectiveness of the Election Commission was there for everyone to see when Prime Minister Modi, during the last assembly elections in Karnataka, publicly appealed to crowd to chant “Bajrang Bali-ki-Jai” while casting their votes. The prime minister also allegedly tried to incite communal hatred by exhorting the crowd to watch the movie “The Kerala Story” which told blatant lies about conversion of Hindu women to Islam. The producers of the film reportedly had to admit later in courts in the state of Kerala that there were only three instances of the so called love-jihad in the state and not thousands of cases as depicted in the film. The PM’s utterances in his public meetings in Karnataka could easily make him liable for punishment under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code. The Election Commission, however, maintained inexplicable silence on the issue.
The prime minister’s recent speeches on how the Mughals destroyed temples after conquering Hindu kingdoms in India, how Rahul Gandhi and Lalu Prasad insulted crores of Hindus by cooking mutton during the “Saavan” month and how Tejasvi Yadav insulted Hindus in the country by eating fish during Navratri festival, were clearly meant to incite hatred against Rahul Gandhi and Tejasvi Yadav. Modi use centuries old historical incidents verified or not to foment communal hatred — to garner Hindu votes for the BJP.
The Election Commission failed to pull up the PM for using religion to divide communities on the eve of general elections. Rahul Gandhi later clarified that the mutton episode had taken place three days after the month of “Saavan” ended. Tejasvi Yadav also clarified that he had eaten fish a day before the beginning of Navratri. That Modi had to stoop down to such a low levels to incite voters against INDIA bloc leaders is itself proof of BJP’s zero achievements during its ten years rule. The discrete silence of the Election Commission on Modi’s outburst on mutton, fish, Saavan and Navratri surprised nobody in the country.
The recent pre-poll survey by the Council for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) confirmed the startling truth that about 75% of the respondents had no trust in the fairness of the Election Commission of India.
The unusually aggressive stance of the present Chief Election Commissioner in defending the EVMs, and even composing a poem to ridicule those who doubted the transparency and technical dependability of the EVMs, must have strengthened the mistrust of voters.
The latest instances of Rahul Gandhi’s helicopter being checked by the Election Commission staff when he landed in Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu and a similar check of the helicopter of Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee in West Bengal, strengthens doubts about the fairness of the Election Commission and its commitment to a free and fair election.
The code of conduct for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections came into force from March 16. The Enforcement Directorate not only arrested Arvind Kejriwal on March 21 but also conducted a series of raids on politicians’ houses and offices even when the code of conduct was on. It is a travesty of truth to say that the Election Commission is conducting free and fair elections when it is not able to stop raids on and arrests of opposition leaders during the pendency of the code of conduct. Can WE, THE PEOPLE do anything in the matter?

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