Sixteen months into office without reaching any closer to fulfilling his pre-election pledge to revive the sagging economy and conjuring up millions of jobs, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has finally decided to take on the Congress `first family’ in a clear signal that his regime would not let them rest in peace if they continued to stall the parliament and his economic reform agenda.
On Friday, the Enforcement Directorate started two simultaneous proceedings against members of the Congress first family—Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Robert Vadra–that indicated that the Modi government was ready to escalate the war between the BJP and Congress to a new level. Both cases were gathering dust for a long time. The way the Enforcment Directorate (ED) decided to reopen them has left no one in doubt that the coming weeks and months could see bitter hostility between the Government and the main opposition.
Aware that a “cornered” Congress will hit back by creating further hurdles in passage of legislation related to economic reforms in parliament, Modi has started reaching out to the opposition and signalling out the `grand old party’ for `ruining’ the country in his public speeches.
To start with, the BJP has been able to win over Mulayam Singh Yadav whose Samajwadi Party recently pulled out of the anti-NDA alliance of the Janata Dal (U), Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress in Bihar. For obvious political reasons, and not to antagonize its Muslim vote bank in Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav has rejected any deal between him and the Prime minister. But the fact remains that the SP took the decision to withdraw from the Nitish-led alliance two days after Mulayam’s brother and party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav met with BJP chief Amit Shah.
Mulayam’s has backstabbed the Opposition much to the delight of the BJP amid allegations that the wily SP chief fell in line because of the ongoing CBI probe in massive corruption charges against Noida’s chief engineer Yadav Singh, who is also reported to have greased the palms of several Samajwadi party leaders and their sons. The factor that forced Mulayam’s hand in Bihar is expected to linger on for a long time in a country where a CBI probe is often used as a tool to blackmail political opponents. So, it is unlikely that the SP will play ball with the Congress in the winter session of parliament.
Modi’s recent meeting with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief, Sharad Pawar, another leader who is known for flip-flops and opportunistic politics, and NCP’s decision to walk out of the Nitish-led alliance seems part of the same script to isolate the Congress, so that the Government could go all out against the Gandhi family without fear of backlash from the combined opposition. Sharad Pawar has far too many vested interests in cricket and politics and sugar cooperatives to take on the BJP.
Similarly, AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha shares a personal equation with Modi and will be expected to endorse any step the NDA government initiated against the Congress first family. On the issue of corruption, the left parties and the Aam Admi Party cannot come to the rescue of the Congress. Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee has no reason either to warm up to the Congress when her state is headed for polls next year.
The BJP will hope that the Congress will crumble under pressure and start cooperating with the Centre, but in India politics such ‘vendetta’ politics has often invited backlash. Already, the Congress is accusing the Modi government of misusing the probe agencies to settle personal scores. Congress leaders claim that the National Herald case was closed by the previous Chief of the ED, Rajan Katoch, who was removed from his post on a complaint from BJP leader Subramanian Swamy that he was helping the Congress leaders in the case.
Whatever Congress leaders may say but they face charges of committing serious financial impropriety in the NH case. Sonia, Rahul and top Congress leaders face allegations of conspiring to grab nearly Rs 5000 Cr of The National Herald ‘s landed property across the country.
The Congress leadership will find it difficult to explain how it loaned Rs 90 cr to The National Herald when a political party in India cannot enter into any commercial transaction by using its fund. The CBI and the ED are expected to lodge cases against the Congress leaders for grabbing prime land allotted to the newspaper by the Urban Development Ministry. While the ED may register a complaint under the Provision of Money Laundering Act, the CBI may proceed against these leaders under the Prevention of Corruption Act…
At the same time, to tighten the screws against the Congress first family, the Enforcement Directorate has started a probe into some land deals in Bikaner against unknown private entities that allegedly grabbed Government land and sold it later after making exorbitant profits. Many of the companies involved in the land grab are suspected to be linked to Vadra.
The Haryana Government has already set up a judicial probe into the land grabbing charges against Vadra, and the report is expected soon.
So far, as part of a tacit understanding, the BJP and the Congress never went against top leaders of each other’s party. Now, much of the political discourse in the coming weeks will depend on whether Modi breaks this `unwritten code’, or the recent actions by ED are mere red herrings!
- The rise of Patanjali:An Indian yogi’s challenge to MNC giants - January 26, 2016
- Padmas – a blend of excellence, politics and ideology - January 25, 2016
- Scared of hispopularity, British wanted to hang Netaji - January 24, 2016