Latest IT raids on think tanks reveal nervousness of the ruling regime

By Arun Srivastava

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised the people of India that he would have good days, but himself is going through his worst days. Bizarre are the ways the Income Tax Department this week searched the premises of three leading agencies, Center for Policy Research (CPR), OxFam India and the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation. The searches were intended to force the directors of these independent bodies to adhere to the official line of saffron. Sangh’s tight media portals have long campaigned against these three agencies, saying their reports are biased against the BJP.

The coordinated operations were conducted in more than 110 locations in Gujarat, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and some other states against certain registered unrecognized political parties and their alleged financial dealings, they said. Some other cases of political funding with alleged illegal means are also being investigated as part of the action, they said.

Modi and his assistants give the impression that these organizations are working against him. CPR has been the think tank on policy issues. Former chairman Pratapbhanu Mehta is a well-known critic of Modi. According to its website, CPR is recognized as a non-profit organization by the Government of India. All contributions to it are therefore exempt from tax. “CPR receives grants from a variety of national and international sources, including foundations, corporate philanthropy, governments and multilateral agencies,” it says, adding that “a full accounting of annual finance and grants” is available on its website.

The raids on the Center for Policy Research (CPR), Oxfam India and the media foundation are said to be part of an investigation into alleged FCRA violations in funds they receive. The statement given by the agency is that all NGOs that receive foreign funds must be registered under the FCRA. It is fine. But why hasn’t IT taken action so far? There must have been a lasting reason. Will IT put the reasons in the public domain? What went wrong? The only plausible reason is; the Modi government plans to send the message to the country’s intelligentsia and academics as well as civil society not to support the opposition in their crusade against the BJP and its own rule.

The government has already canceled the FCRA registration of nearly 1,900 NGOs for violating several legal provisions over the past five years. There were 22,762 FCRA registered organizations until the end of December 2021. The homes of Rajasthan’s Home Minister of State Rajendra Yadav and his relatives were also raided by the IT. This is clearly a move to ensure that the Rajasthan police force is kept under control. Yadav’s relatives make bags for fertilizer, grains and cement. When questioned, the IT staff told him that the central government sent them.

The BJP leaders have used all available tools to force the opponents to step in and shut down the fund channel. The only motive behind these actions is to starve the opponents. Political aides and some of the bureaucrats have informed Modi that these agencies have funneled their money to some political parties.

The Election Commission has also suddenly been activated. It recently removed at least 198 parties from the list of registered unrecognized political parties after they did not exist during physical verification. Undoubtedly, such parties should be blacklisted and their names removed from the list. But the question arises as to why the Commission has so far been sleeping on the file about the need to take action and remove them from the list. What prompted the EC to recommend that they be removed from the list? Significantly, the EC announced it is taking action against more than 2,100 entities categorized as registered unrecognized political parties for violating rules and electoral laws, including those pertaining to the submission of monetary contributions, and omitting their addresses and names of office holders. update. It had said some of these parties were indulging in “serious” financial impropriety.

Apart from these actions, the ED, CBI and IT have started another round of raids on the homes and offices of political leaders. Just a few days later, the home and office of Moloy Ghatak, a minister in Mamata’s government, was raided by CBI and IT. Mamata responded to the raid said; “BJP thinks they can threaten us with CBI and ED. The more they pursue such tricks, the closer they will get to defeat in next year’s Panchayat elections and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.” She even criticized some of the media for unleashing an evil campaign against her and her party leaders following the arrest of senior leaders Partha Chatterjee and Anubrata Mondal by central authorities in several cases.

The desperation to maintain power has left Modi and Amit Shah restless. While these raids are being carried out, Amit Shah has instructed Union ministers to focus on rural areas. They must focus on at least 144 Lok Sabha constituencies until the 2024 elections and ensure that the party wins those seats. It also plans to conduct regular surveys and hold strategy meetings. The leadership is afraid of the Bharat Jodo Yatra that they do not want to take any risks. The emphasis is on identifying new areas and constituencies as the leadership fears losing seats in traditional strongholds in the core states.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra is likely to impact at least 133 Lok Sabha who fall in the path of the rally. The ground reports coming out of the states already indicate that the people have become receptive to Rahul’s call. This is certainly a dangerous sign for Modi and Shah. The situation in Bihar and UP has become more complicated in recent days with the state BJP leaders indulging in factional feuds. Some leaders in these two states are realizing the depressed mood gripping national leaders and are even considering crossing over. Samajwadi party chief Akhilesh Yadav is already in talks with some BJP dalit leaders in Uttar Pradesh. In Karnataka, the BJP faces the worst anger from citizens, including their own supporters, after the government failed to restore normalcy after rain. Time is going badly for the Sangh Parivar, causing the leaders to panic. (IPA service)

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