DC Edit | Action on Kejriwal during elections raises questions

The general election to the 18th Lok Sabha now underway could go down in the history as the worst, perhaps after the election to the sixth Lok Sabha held in 1977 where the government in power made every possible attempt to strangle the Opposition with the law while arrogating to itself the right to violate it at will.

The latest such abuse comes in the form of the recommendation of the Delhi lieutenant-governor V.K. Saxena to the Union home ministry to hold an investigation by the National Investigation Agency, the anti-terror agency of the Union government, into the allegations that Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) he heads have received political funding from the banned “Khalistani” outfit, Sikhs for Justice. The L-G’s recommendation is based on a complaint he received from the national general secretary of the World Hindu Federation. The outfit has alleged that AAP received $16 million from it for facilitating the release of Devendra Pal Singh Bhullar, a convict in the 1993 Delhi bomb blast case.

The AAP, which trashed the charges, has pointed out that the Delhi high court had junked a similar plea, seeking an investigation into the charge, citing that the Union home ministry was seized of the matter. Reports suggest that the name of Prof. Bhullar, who has got his death sentence commuted to life by the Supreme Court due to his ill health and delays in the trial, was there on the list of nine Sikh convicts for whom the Union government had decided to grant remission on the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev as a special gesture. In fact, he has moved clemency petitions as many as eight times, and they have all been rejected by the Delhi government's Sentence Review Board (SRB), even after the AAP government had come to power both in Delhi and in Punjab.

The question then arises now is what prompted the lieutenant governor to jump the queue and make a recommendation to the Union home ministry, even suggesting the name of the agency which should in his opinion investigate the allegations. The timing of the letter and its release to the public are also suspicious as it coincides with the Supreme Court taking up the interim bail petition of Mr Kejriwal.

The Union government must now assure the people of Delhi and the nation that to slap the Opposition leaders with charges one after the other to keep them behind bars and thereby hijack the entire democratic process is not its agenda.

However, it appears that the muscle flexing by the government has not yet appeared on the radar of the Election Commission of India. It may also be noticed that the Election Commission has not yet thought it fit to take cognisance of the speeches Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivers which many people have complained to it as being divisive and demeaning of one or the other community.

Free and fair elections are fundamental to a functioning democracy. The entire exercise would be reduced to a farce if the ruling party and the Opposition are subjected to different sets of rules. It is time the umpire woke up and made the necessary course correction.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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