EDITORIAL | Selective I-T raids on Oppn must stop

DH Photo/Satish Badiger

It is strange that a protest against wrong and unjustifiable actions of government officials itself becomes an offence and the protesters are sought to be hauled under the law. The dharna held by Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, members of his cabinet, and other ruling alliance leaders outside the Income Tax department office in Bengaluru to protest against the recent state-wide raids on many leaders of the ruling coalition and their associates has been dubbed a criminal act by the I-T department. Principal Chief Commissioner of Income Tax BR Balakrishnan has moved the Election Commission for action against the chief minister and others for obstruction of duty, illegal assembly, intimidation, insult and other offences under the Indian Penal Code. The truth is, it is the I-T department which has acted wrongly, with its selective raids on non-BJP leaders and their supporters.

The raids launched by the I-T Department and Enforcement Directorate in Karnataka and other states against the BJP’s opponents on the eve of elections are ill-motivated and are a violation of the model code of conduct. The I-T chief carries out these operations in such a partisan way and then wants action against those who criticise it. Kumaraswamy has said the raids are partisan, but that is clear to everyone even without him saying so. When the raiding parties swoop down on opponents of the BJP and spare that party’s leaders and supporters, announce seizure of big caches of “unaccounted’’ cash and make claims of having found incriminating documents, it is meant to show the opposition leaders and parties in a poor light. This is denial of a level electoral field and amounts to interference in the electoral process and should be dealt with as a breach of the model code of conduct. 

Both the I-T department and the ED are under the control of the union finance ministry and are conducting themselves as political agents of the ruling party at the Centre. They take their instructions from the government and act according to its political interests. The misuse of authority by these departments has never been so brazen and blatant in the past as it is now. The I-T chief in Bengaluru has no right to complain against the chief minister when he has himself used the official machinery under him to harass the BJP’s rivals. Departments like the I-T and the ED should be bound by the model code of conduct and they should have no right and power to conduct raids of the political kind just before elections. Are we expected to believe that the BJP, which has collected over 95% of the funding from unknown and unaccounted sources through Electoral Bonds, is all clean and that only opposition parties are using money power in the elections?  

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EDITORIAL | Selective I-T raids on Oppn must stop

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