Probe agencies ‘misused’ to extort donations for BJP; SC-monitored probe needed: Congress

PTI, Feb 23, 2024, 3:56 PM IST

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday alleged that probe agencies were ‘misused’ to extort donations for the BJP from private companies and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored probe into the matter.

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 action 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.

Ramesh also 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.

Ramesh said these three questions have been asked in the letter written by Congress general secretary, organisation, K C Venugopal, to Sitharaman.

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’.

“The news report is authenticated by several Election Commission documents regarding donation and other robust evidence. 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.

“Two of the three agencies come under the jurisdiction of the Finance Ministry. The entire nation knows how investigative agencies are being remote controlled by your government. This has been testified by a four-fold increase in ED cases against politicians since 2014, and 95 per cent of the cases are against Opposition leaders,” Venugopal said.

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.

Six other firms, which had donated to the BJP each year before, faced central action after they skipped donations in one financial year, Venugopal 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.

“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 ruling party BJP, despite ED investigation against them,” the party said.

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

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