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Govt using probe agencies to do hafta-vasooli: Cong

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
Last updated on: February 24, 2024 01:06 IST
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The Congress on Friday alleged that probe agencies were being misused to 'extort' donations for the Bharatiya Janata Party from private companies and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into what it called 'hafta-vasooli' by the government.

IMAGE: Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference in New Delhi. Photograph: Screen grab

Addressing a press conference, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh alleged that at least 30 companies, which donated a total of nearly Rs 335 crore to the BJP between financial years 2018-19 and 2022-23, faced investigation by central agencies during that period.

Ramesh said Congress general secretary in-charge organisation K C Venugopal on Friday wrote to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the issue and asked why the government should not be open to a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the donations received by the BJP.


Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a post on X said, 'Do you know about the Prime Minister's 'Donate, take bail and business' scheme? In the country, the Prime Minister is doing business like 'vasooli bhai' by misusing ED, IT and CBI.'

He said reports have revealed that 30 companies that faced investigation by various agencies, which have become 'recovery agents' now, donated Rs 335 crore to the BJP during the investigation.

'The donation business is going on so shamelessly that the owners of a distillery in MP donated to the BJP as soon as they got the bail. Benefitting the company of a friend by dishonesty and adopting different rules for others? 'Illegal donations' and 'Electoral Bonds' given to BJP under Modi rule are the guarantee of 'Ease of Doing Business',' Gandhi said in his post in Hindi, using the hashtag '#HaftaVasooliSarkar'.

Ramesh asked if the government would come up with a 'white paper' on the BJP's finances, not just the sources but how corporate firms were 'coerced' to donate by misusing investigative agencies against them.

"If you have nothing to hide, then are you willing to present a point-by-point rebuttal on the 'chronology' of events which led to the filling of BJP's treasury?" he asked.

"If you are unwilling to come up with a factual explanation, then are you willing to present yourself for a Supreme Court-monitored investigation in these dubious deals to loot donation for the BJP?" Ramesh said.

He said a Supreme Court-monitored probe is needed in this matter.

In his letter to Sitharaman, Venugopal said media reports have exposed the alleged 'quid pro quo between BJP and several firms, which in a strange coincidence donated to it after the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Income Tax Department (IT) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and others raided or searched those enterprises'.

'It raises serious questions about the institutional independence, autonomy, and the professionalism of the central agencies IT, ED, CBI,' Venugopal said in his letter to the finance minister.

Of the 30 firms, 23 companies, which gave a total of Rs 187.58 crore to the BJP during this period, had never donated any amount to the BJP between 2014 and the year of the raid, Venugopal said.

'At least four of these companies donated a total of Rs 9.05 crore within four months of the central agency visit,' the Congress leader said in his letter.

At least six of these firms, which were already donors to the BJP, handed out a heftier amount in the months following the searches, he alleged.

'The above instances seem to be a clear-cut case of legal extortion in the form of donations to the ruling party, by exerting pressure on investigative agencies,' the letter said.

'Certainly, these are not the only cases where such modus operandi of alleged extortion has taken place. This looks like the tip of the iceberg,' it said.

In a post on X, Venugopal said the Enforcement Directorate is the 'Extortion Department' for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

'Not only is this completely vitiating the level playing field in our democracy, it is also spreading tax terrorism across Indian industry...Such a criminal misuse of agencies must be punished, and the justice system must take note of this egregious violation of constitutional norms,' Venugopal said.

Is it a mere coincidence that they are donating to the BJP after ED action, he asked.

'Narendra Modi often refers to our country as 'Mother of Democracy'. Is extortion and blackmail to force fund the ruling party by weakening autonomous investigative agencies part of 'Mother of Democracy'? Does looting the donation of the principal opposition party, through trivial Income Tax notices, part of 'Mother of Democracy'?' Venugopal said in his letter.

'We are going to the courts of law and to the court of people. We will defeat you on both sides,' he said.

Ramesh said the BJP-led Centre is taking 'notebandi' forward by running this campaign of 'khata bandi' against the Congress.

'We are fighting in appellate tribunal and if needed we will go to the judiciary,' he said.

Ramesh said, 'Investigation are on...In Indian system, process is punishment. The sword is hanging above your head and only then will they bring them on track. If you are let off, then you will forget. That is why, this sword keeps hanging over you, be it ED's sword, CBI's sword or Income Tax's sword and you will keep on the track and keep giving donations.'

When investigation is used as a means to blackmail, he said, 'this is 'hafta vasooli' (extortion) and nothing else and this is not investigation with honesty'.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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