Mainstream TV news channels in India often call the anti-corruption crusader to open sesame on 10 Janpath. It’s like the religious police are let loose on the unsuspecting citizenry in certain countries on certain days to vent their ire at the breach of the religious code. Other days they stew in their quarters. Just like anti-corruption crusaders do on days when 10 Janpath is not the headline. For the last couple of days, the Congress has been under siege, at its headquarters held at bay behind barricades as were the official residences of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Is this how it looks, a Congress-mukt Bharat? Are the police cracking their whip, eager to do the bidding of their masters? Only the other day, Rahul Gandhi had in a Facebook post asked people not to “panic”, that they had the Congress’s back. This, after the ED, sealed the National Herald office in Delhi’s Fleet Street Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.
Like the anchor asked the courtroom anti-corruption crusader, “Are we in the final leg of Operation Congress-mukt Bharat?” The answer was a high-pitched laugh, but the remains of the day spoke volumes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi couldn’t care less, the quicker the better. And it wasn’t National Herald or Young Indian, it was every Indian with an opinion and a vote. The question was asked by a news TV channel: “Which party would you vote for if elections were held today?” The answer fetched the BJP 326 seats, and the Congress+ only 97! But the BJP doesn’t seem convinced. Gujarat and Karnataka aren’t making the right noises. If the AAP has the BJP tied down by freebies; Karnataka appears to be falling in love with Rahul Gandhi. Scenes there aren’t behind a hijab to escape notice. One does not need to be a psephologist to know that the BJP could be lost to an AAP tsunami in Gujarat, exactly like the Congress in Punjab. Now, the Supreme Court has been involved in a reckoning of the “freebies culture”. And the rising prices are pinching the BJP on both feet. So much so, that it appears like it has hired the services of the Delhi Police to bail it out.
The ED questioned Congress president Sonia Gandhi in July and Rahul Gandhi in June. Some of the questions were leaked to the media, but apart from those, to date, nobody knows what the ED gained from holding to ransom the valuable time of busy politicians planning to unseat the current dispensation at the Centre. But while the ED behaves like police, it isn’t police. The Delhi Police, on the other hand, is the police working under the direct control of the Union Home Ministry. And it’s not just the Congress, even police forces of Opposition-ruled states are harassed, like the West Bengal CID, which came to investigate the Jharkhand cash-car affair. So, this is how it is – the ED seals the Young Indian office. The Delhi Police writes to Congress to cancel its August 5 price rise protest. This is followed by a police siege of 10 Janpath and 12 Tughlak Lane. The optics fit the intention; they also speak of the brute power of the police state. At least, that is how it looks. The August 5 protest included laying siege to the Prime Minister’s residence.