Right ahead of elections due in two Indian states of Maharashtra and Haryana, the classic political rivalry between BJP and Congress has started to take shape. On October 15, the Congress party has moved the Election Commission [EC] complaining of unwarranted ‘raids’ on the houses of the employees of the Congress party. Congress is looking at this is the vengeance of the Bhartiya Janta Party [BJP], trying to misuse the Income Tax [IT] Department to suffice its appetite for political rivalry. To substantiate this allegation, a delegation by the Congress party, consisting of Kapil Sibal, Vivek Tankha, Manish Tiwari, Anand Sharma and Ahmed Patel submitted a memorandum to the office of the Election Commission. The memorandum alleges that unknown official of the IT Department is carrying unwarranted raid on the house of party officials and conducting house-searches apparently illegal, as it is done without any identity proof or document allowing such a search.
In light of the events, Congress suspects that the intention is to hamper the election campaigning by directing the attention of the party to these unwarranted actions. The prayer made before the EC by the Congress party officials is that it has requested the commission to intervene on an urgent basis and take up strong and punitive actions against the officials who are behind the conduction of these illegal raids and searches.
Congress Cashier, T.M. Varghese’s house raided by the IT officials:
On Saturday last week, the Kochi house of Congress leader T Mathews Varghese was suddenly raided by a special team of income tax officer. Varghese has been working as a cashier in New Delhi at the headquarters of All Indian Congress Committee [AICC] for over ten years now. He is engaged in the major-minor financial transactions of the party. The raid began on October 12, early around 10 am and went up till late evening the same team. One day earlier, another larger team of IT officials, consisting of over 12 IT officials raided Verghese’s house for approximately 12 hours, seizing some documents. A similar pattern of raids have been observed on ‘ordinary employees’ of the party thus suspecting the involvement of BJP. It has remarked that BJP is sufficing its thirst for political vendetta has hit a ‘new low’. Anand Sharma has come on record to say that by intimidating the political opposition by conducting terror raids, BJP will not be able to create a police or surveillance state. Post the I-T raids, there were protests by the Youth Congress, and NSUI demonstrated outside the residence of present finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Following the raid on the cashier of the AICC, BJP somehow succeeded in paralyzing the accounts section of the Congress Part for a few days, said Sharma. He said that transactions to party officials in Haryana and Maharashtra, where elections are awaited, has been made impossible by these raids on the employees. He also claimed that BJP is the ‘richest party in the world’.
Renowned Congress party member Kapil Sibal has expressed anguish over these petty tactics of the BJP. He said, the Election
“Ahead of elections, Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) people in Maharashtra and Haryana go to our accountants’ house, enter and remain there from 6.00 pm Friday to Sunday evening, without any warrant, without any document,”
Sibal expressed that the misuse of the top independent bodies of the country by the party in power is nothing but a danger to the fundamental blocks of Indian democracy. Misusing the powers of the Enforcement Directorate [ED], Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] and the Central Board of Direct Taxes [CBDT] is a shame for democracy, taking away the autonomy and independence of these bodies.
‘Abuse of power’ by the ruling party.
There has been opposition to this move of the IT Department on the grounds that it is brazen abuse of power for the IT Department to operate on the whims and fancies of the ruling party. The Congress delegation in its memorandum has clearly stated, that similar tactics were employed by the BJP earlier in the last elections as well. Due to this overreaching use of power and authority of the BJP, Congress claims that the ‘democracy is under perpetual seize’. The prayer before the Election Commission made by the delegation was to call the CBDT, and the official involved seeking an explanation into the arbitrary action conducted in the past few days, seeking an explanation to why this “arbitrary high-handed and completely draconian behaviour” is taking place.
Criminal Intimidation of Voters in Kaithal, Haryana:
A separate memorandum has been submitted by the Congress delegation alleging criminal intimidation of the voters in the Kaithal, the area from where the party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala is contesting. Leela Ram Gujjar, the BJP Candidate for Kaithal, Haryana has been alleged in the memorandum for orchestrating criminal activities, stating it to be ‘a grave and urgent matter’. The allegations are of grave nature alleging that the party in power is deploying criminals to turn the outcome of an election, favourable to themselves. The Congress has prayed before the EC to take a note of the wrong doings and conduct an immediate investigation.