BJP unfazed by INDIA outcry over Kejriwal arrest as ‘corruption’ still a key poll plank | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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BJP unfazed by INDIA outcry over Kejriwal arrest as ‘corruption’ still a key poll plank

Mar 22, 2024 08:38 AM IST

The general election is inching closer, and zero tolerance to corruption, scams, irregularities will be the centerpiece of BJP’s poll pitch

On Thursday, the two main opposition parties — Congress and Aam Admi Party — accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Union government of political vendetta.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday in an excise policy-linked money laundering case. (PTI Photo)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal after his arrest by the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday in an excise policy-linked money laundering case. (PTI Photo)

While the Congress claimed the freezing of its bank accounts by the Income Tax department was a political ploy to financially “cripple” the party and throttle its electioneering ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the AAP dubbed the late-night arrest of its leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal as the government’s “desperation” and an attempt to misuse the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to keep him out of the 2024 general elections.

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The BJP was unfazed. It asserted that the action against both the opposition parties was in line with the government’s crackdown on corruption.

The saffron party’s 2014 poll campaign was mounted on the planks of anti-corruption and development. The promise of ‘achhe din’ (good times), the projection of the country as an economic giant, with infrastructure rivalling the developed countries and, most of all, jobs caught the fancy of the voter. But it was the BJP’s all-out campaign against the then UPA dispensation, underscoring the scams and irregularities in government auctions and other administrative issues that resonated on the ground.

The 10-year rule of the Congress-led UPA, which had its share of accomplishments and blunders, was reduced to a lost decade. The BJP benefitted from the anti-corruption campaign to win 282 of the 543 seats to form the new NDA government.

However, in the past decade, the NDA government has itself been accused by its political opponents of misusing federal probe agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation, the National Investigation Agencies and the ED. They cite multiple instances of opposition leaders, including those in seats of power, CMs and ministers of being victimised.

In recent months, two chief ministers have been arrested. In Jharkhand, Hemant Soren, anticipating his imminent arrest, resigned hastily to appoint Champai Soren as his successor. Kejriwal was arrested late last night amid protests and high drama in the national capital.

In Telangana, K Kavitha, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi leader and daughter of former chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, was arrested last week in connection with the ED’s investigation into money laundering charges linked to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy.

Political observers trace a pattern in the action against the opposition, pointing out how some leaders who have switched sides to the BJP seem to have either been absolved of charges against them, or cases indicting them put in the cold storage.

Take the case of former Congressman and Maharashtra strongman Ashok Chavan. Days before he was inducted into the BJP last month, the government issued a white paper on the economy, referring to the Adarsh Society scam in Mumbai that had irregularities in the allocation of flats meant for war widows and veterans. The building was allegedly built in violation of various rules and regulations. Chavan was accused of approving additional floor space index (FSI) for the Adarsh building in exchange for flats for his relatives.

The opposition’s ‘washing machine’ jibe, a reference to the BJP welcoming into its fold leaders with cases and complaints against them, which then gets cold, has become living room conversations.

Notwithstanding the opposition’s allegations, the BJP is confident of rallying public opinion in its favour, and the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an uncorruptible leader will justify the actions against opponents.

The general election is inching closer, and zero tolerance to corruption, scams, irregularities will be the centerpiece of BJP’s poll pitch.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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