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Thursday, May 30, 2024

India’s Election Campaigns In Jeopardy

Election campaigns in India are undergoing a disturbing transformation, where the fundamental principles of free and fair elections are under threat. The level playing field for opposition parties, in their endeavour to challenge the ruling BJP, has all but disappeared. This imbalance is primarily due to the BJP’s stranglehold on funding, facilitated by the controversial electoral bond scheme that grants it privileged status as the incumbent ruling party. The opposition finds itself severely handicapped in their electoral campaigns, grappling with a dearth of financial resources.

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Election campaigns in India are undergoing a disturbing transformation, where the fundamental principles of free and fair elections are under threat. The level playing field for opposition parties, in their endeavour to challenge the ruling BJP, has all but disappeared. This imbalance is primarily due to the BJP’s stranglehold on funding, facilitated by the controversial electoral bond scheme that grants it privileged status as the incumbent ruling party. The opposition finds itself severely handicapped in their electoral campaigns, grappling with a dearth of financial resources. Furthermore, a deliberate strategy of harassment, including raids, summonses, and arrests, is being employed to impede their ability to effectively campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prominent opposition figure, senior advocate, and former union minister Kapil Sibal, in a recent post on X, lamented the situation, stating, “ED targets leaders of almost all political parties in the opposition.” He decried the weaponisation of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the unjust denial of bail to opposition leaders. Sibal emphasised the urgent need for the courts to intervene and address the blatant misuse of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

Sibal’s remarks on X came on the heels of the Enforcement Directorate summoning AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in connection with a liquor case in Delhi. Notably, when the Supreme Court denied bail to Delhi’s former deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, Sibal rallied the opposition, calling for a unified front. It is apparent that the government’s motto appears to be, “Send them to jail first, evidence can follow.” It is imperative to recognize that the ED’s summons to Arvind Kejriwal coincided with the upcoming polls in five states. At such a critical juncture, political parties and leaders should have the freedom to focus entirely on their election campaigns without undue distractions. Kejriwal, demonstrating resolve, chose to prioritize his campaign over the summons. However, even permission for a poll rally in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh, was denied to him and his party. It is essential to note that Madhya Pradesh is governed by the BJP, who are fiercely striving to retain power in the state. Simultaneously, in Delhi, another AAP leader and state minister, Raaj Kumar Anand, witnessed a raid on his residence and 11 other properties in a money laundering case. Prior to this, the ED had already apprehended two key ministers and AAP leaders, Satyendar Jain and Manish Sisodia.

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The pervasive belief is that the BJP, rattled by the formation of the INDIA alliance, is implementing a plan to target its top leaders. AAP’s Raghav Chadha contends that the first target in this strategy is Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. The opposition has brought the issue of political misuse of Central investigating agencies to the attention of the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court is currently hearing petitions challenging the Electoral Bond scheme and has agreed to hear several petitions related to the misuse of the ED. On several occasions, the SC has criticised the ED for its high-handed actions. The question that arises is whether the ED believes that only opposition leaders deserve its attention while BJP leaders and their associates remain untouchable. This inequity raises concerns about the principle of equality before the law, a constitutional guarantee to the citizens of India. It serves as a wake-up call for all those who uphold the democratic values enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

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The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
Welcome to The Hills Times, your trusted source for daily news and updates in English from the heart of Assam, India. Since our establishment in 2000, we've been dedicated to providing timely and accurate information to our readers in Diphu and Guwahati. As the first English newspaper in the then undemarcated Karbi Anglong district, we've forged a strong connection with diverse communities and age groups, earning a reputation for being a reliable source of news and insights. In addition to our print edition, we keep pace with the digital age through our website, https://thehillstimes.in, where we diligently update our readers with the latest happenings day by day. Whether it's local events, regional developments, or global news, The Hills Times strives to keep you informed with dedication and integrity. Join us in staying ahead of the curve and exploring the world through our lens.
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