Emboldened by the post-poll surveys that predicted a good performance by the Congress in the recently conducted state elections, the party on Saturday said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is indulging in “dirty tricks” to intimidate the Opposition.
Its leaders referred to raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Robert Vadra, son-in-law of United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and some of his associates on Friday. The Sangh Parivar, too, mounted pressure on the government as it prepared for its “dharma sansad”, slated for Sunday, to press for the Ram temple in Ayodhya.
The BJP hit back at the Opposition, calling Vadra a fountainhead of corruption.
Most surveys, released on Friday, predicted that the Congress would thwart the five-year-old BJP government’s reelection bid in Rajasthan. In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, both of which have BJP government, the results could be a photo finish. Experts claims the results of these elections, to be declared on December 11, would determine the strategy of both the government and the Opposition for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
On the offensive
On Saturday, the Congress held two separate press briefings.
The first was by lawyer and party leader Abhishek Singhvi and spokesperson Pawan Khera. The second, in the evening, had party heavyweights, such as Treasurer Ahmed Patel, former Union minister Kapil Sibal, and chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala in attendance.
Singhvi said the BJP faced a complete rout in the five states, and so the government has turned vindictive. He said the government was misusing central probe agencies against Opposition leaders, and the raid on Vadra and his associates was part of this. “The CBI, the ED, the income tax department are acting as ‘slaves and bonded labourers’, dancing to the tunes of the Modi government,” Singhvi said.
Dubbing Robert Vadra as the “fountainhead of corruption”, the BJP on Saturday lashed out at the Congress. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Congress used to call Vadra a private citizen after his name cropped up in corruption cases but now the whole party stands behind him.
“It implies that he is only a conduit and the final track probably leads to the family,” he said, targeting the Gandhi family. He also defended investigation agency raids, claiming that independent institutions are working in tandem with the Constitution under the Modi government and that law is taking its own course.
Trouble in the family
As it prepared for its “dharma sansad” at Delhi’s Ramlila Grounds, the Vishva Hindu Parishad claimed hundreds from across the country have come to attend it. There was trouble elsewhere too in the Sangh Parivar.
The Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, the trade union arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, reached out to other central trade unions to plan a joint action to protest against the government’s “anti-worker” policies.
The meeting, held at the BMS headquarters in Delhi, was attended by representatives of several other trade unions, including Congress-affiliated Indian National Trade Union Congress. They decided to formulate a charter of demands, which they will present to the government’s “group of ministers” on trade union-related issues, headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, on December 31.
Brimming with confidence
Despite the post-poll surveys showing a tight race in the state, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday said he was confident of returning to power. “I am the biggest surveyor (pollster) as I remain in the midst of public all day long. The BJP is set to romp home,” Chouhan said.
With inputs from PTI