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regular-article-logo Thursday, 18 April 2024

'Extortion' slur on Modi government, Congress alleges firms raided by ED, CBI filled BJP coffers

The Congress cited the information available on the Election Commission website furnished by the BJP itself which shows how 30 companies hounded by the CBI, income tax and Enforcement Directorate paid Rs 335 crore to the ruling party in what looks like a quid pro quo

Sanjay K. Jha New Delhi Published 24.02.24, 05:59 AM
Jairam Ramesh interacts with the media in New Delhi on Friday. (PTI picture)

Jairam Ramesh interacts with the media in New Delhi on Friday. (PTI picture) Sourced by the Telegraph

The Congress has dared the Narendra Modi government to order a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry into the “blackmail-and-extortion” racket it is allegedly running through central agencies to fill its coffers.

In a letter written by general secretary in charge of organisation K.C. Venugopal to finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the Congress cited the information available on the Election Commission website furnished by the BJP itself which shows how 30 companies hounded by the CBI, income tax and Enforcement Directorate paid Rs 335 crore to the ruling party in what looks like a quid pro quo.

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Rahul Gandhi also taunted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by calling him “Wasooli Bhai” and accusing his government of running an extortion racket. In a message posted on X, he said: “Do you know about the Prime Minister’s ‘Chanda do — bail aur business lo yojna’ (Give donations and secure bail and business scheme)? The Prime Minister is running a ‘chande ka dhandha’ misusing ED, CBI and IT like Wasooli Bhai.”

Referring to reports in the news portals Newslaundary and The News Minute, Rahul said: “Reports suggest that 30 companies embroiled in the net of central agencies which have become extortion agents paid Rs 335 crore donations to the BJP....”

In his letter to the finance minister, Venugopal said: “The news report (about donations) is authenticated by several Election Commission documents regarding donation and other robust evidence. The entire nation knows how investigative agencies are being remote-controlled by your government. This has been testified by the fact that there has been a four-fold increase in ED cases against politicians since 2014, and 95% of the cases are against the Opposition leaders. The report chronicles instances wherein the IT, ED, CBI and other agencies either arrested, searched or seized assets of certain companies, and later they seemed to be coerced to donate to the BJP.”

Giving details, Venugopal said: “Of these 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 party between 2014 and the year of the raid. At least four of these companies donated a total of Rs 9.05 crore within four months of the central agency visit. At least six of these firms, which were already donors to the BJP, handed out a heftier amount in the months following the searches. 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.”

He added: “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. We are nowhere alleging that the cases filed, or the action taken by the investigating agencies are illegal, but it does warrant an investigation, on why these dubious firms who have ED cases against them are donating to the BJP, despite ED investigation against them. Is it a mere coincidence that they are donating to the BJP, after ED action?”

Daring the BJP to have a debate on this issue, Venugopal said in the letter: “Would you (finance minister) come up with a ‘White Paper’ on BJP’s finances, not just the sources, but how you coerced corporate firms to donate, by misusing investigative agencies against them?

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