Electoral bonds world’s biggest extortion scheme, PM is champion of corruption: Rahul Gandhi


PTI, Apr 17, 2024, 2:50 PM IST

Image source: PTI / File

Ghaziabad: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday dubbed the electoral bonds as the ”world’s biggest extortion scheme” and alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the ”champion of corruption”.

Addressing a joint press conference with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav here, the former Congress chief also said that there is a strong undercurrent in favour of the opposition INDIA bloc and the BJP will be limited to 150 seats in the Lok Sabha polls.

”This election is an ideological one. On the one hand, there is the RSS and the BJP who are trying to end the Constitution and the democratic system of the country and on the other hand is the INDIA bloc which is protecting and defending the Constitution and the democratic system,” Gandhi said at the presser flanked by Yadav, Congress general secretaries Jairam Ramesh and Avinash Pande, Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Ajay Rai and other SP leaders.

Gandhi said there are a few big issues in the Lok Sabha polls, such as unemployment and price rise, but the BJP is engaged in diverting attention from them.

”Sometimes the PM goes under water in the ocean and sometimes he is on a seaplane but does not talk about issues,” he alleged.

Referring to a recent interview of Modi, Gandhi said it was ”scripted” and a ”flop show” with the prime minister also giving an explanation on electoral bonds.

The PM said the electoral bonds were brought for transparency to cleanse politics but if that is the case, then why did the Supreme Court discontinue them, Gandhi asked.

He further asked, ”If you wanted to bring transparency, then why were the names of those who donated thousands of crores (of rupees) to the BJP hidden?” Why were the dates on which the companies made donations to the BJP hidden, he asked.

”It was found that a company got a contract for thousands of crores (of rupees) and after a few days, that company made a donation to the BJP. There was a CBI or ED inquiry on a firm and after 10-15 days, that firm made a donation to the BJP and that inquiry was ended,” he charged.

The electoral bonds scheme is the ”world’s biggest extortion scheme”, the Congress leader said.

”No matter how much clarification the prime minister gives, it will make no difference because the whole country knows that the prime minister is the champion of corruption,” Gandhi alleged.

Asked how many seats he expects the Congress-SP alliance to win, Gandhi said that he does not predict the number of seats but can definitely say that the coalition will do very well in Uttar Pradesh.

On the overall scenario, he said, ”15-20 days ago it seemed that the BJP would go up to 180 seats. Now it seems that it will go up to 150 seats only. We are getting reports from every state that our position is getting stronger and there is an undercurrent (in favour of the INDIA bloc).” ”As far as the alliance in Uttar Pradesh is concerned, our alliance is very powerful. Our performance will be very good,” he asserted.

In his remarks at the presser, Yadav asserted that ”winds of change” are blowing from western Uttar Pradesh and there will be an INDIA bloc ”clean sweep” from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur.

He also urged people to ensure that their votes are not divided and asked them to guard their booths to ensure a wipeout of the BJP.

”The first phase of the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh is going to be held. The winds that are blowing from the west are going to change the environment of the whole Uttar Pradesh and the country,” Yadav said.

”Today, we are sitting in Ghaziabad. There will be a clean sweep of the INDIA bloc over the BJP from Ghaziabad to Ghazipur,” the SP chief said.

He claimed that farmers are distressed as all of the BJP’s promises and claims have turned out to be a ”big lie”.

Neither have farmers’ incomes doubled nor have youngsters got jobs, he said.

”Their (BJP) balloon of morality has burst. The electoral bonds issue has exposed them. The BJP has become a godown of the corrupt. They are not only taking in the corrupt but also their earnings,” Yadav alleged.

”They (BJP) made claims of double-engine (government), look at their hoardings now. Their candidates are missing and only one person is there. After the polls, the person who is alone on the hoardings will also disappear,” he said in an apparent swipe at Prime Minister Modi.

”Lying and looting have become their identity,” Yadav added.

”The people of the country want change… I am confident that an INDIA bloc government will be formed,” he asserted.

Yadav said the PDA (Pichhde, Dalit aur Alpsankhyak) will defeat the NDA (National Democratic Alliance).

”They will be wiped out from here to Ghazipur and those who came in 2014 will exit in 2024. The people of Uttar Pradesh ensure a grand welcome and this time they will also ensure a grand departure,” he said.

Asked about Modi’s criticism of his remarks that the Congress will end poverty in no time, Gandhi said no one said that poverty will end in one go but we can make strong efforts for it.

To questions on contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi, the former Congress chief said he will abide by his party’s decision.

Such decisions are taken by the Central Election Committee of the party, he said.

The SP and the Congress are contesting the Lok Sabha polls in an alliance in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress is contesting 17 seats while the SP and some other allies are fighting from the remaining 63 seats in the politically crucial state, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha.

Eight constituencies in Uttar Pradesh — Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzzafarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Muradabad, Rampur and Pilibhit — will go to polls in the first phase of general elections on April 19.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls will begin on Friday and the counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

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