Somehow the raids by Enforcement Directorate at the offices of certain firms belonging to Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra have coincided with the results of exit polls from five States. These polls had barely concluded on December 7 evening when Vadra’s office premises were stormed by Enforcement sleuths. And, thus, varying interpretations are being made vis-à-vis the Government move against Vadra and the likely outcome of the polls held for five State Assemblies where votes are to be counted on December 11.
The sheer timing of the raids indicates that the Centre’s ruling party, or the BJP, waited to make this move till the last day and last hours of the polls to avoid possible allegations of vendetta that could have cast a shadow over the polls.
The effect of such a step could have cut both ways. On the one hand this could have amounted to showing the often alleged shadier side of the top Congress family and motives could have been attributed to the BJP for influencing voters by sullying the image of the rival party, or more so that of the top rungs of the party leaders.
But on the other hand this could have also given Congress leaders an opportunity to make a victim’s image of sorts by crying foul against action taken to possibly browbeat a member of the highest ranking party leader’s family.
Anyway, the Government move against Vadra came only alongside the conclusion of the polls where the possibility of Congress doing better than before in three BJP ruled provinces – Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh – out of the five was being brought via exit polls onto the television screens of millions of homes. And, thus, it signalled a moment to seize upon the battle of narratives that has become inevitable not only in view of the December 11 poll results but also the winter session of Parliament that is going to commence from the same day.
The last of the two events is no less important than the first as a wait of only four days is left for both from now.
The Congress alongwith its other Opposition cohorts has been gearing up to take on the treasury benches by mounting an attack on the issue of corruption, courtesy the alleged opaque manner in which a defence deal was signed sometime back with foreign suppliers. And, thus, the Government needed enough ammunition to repulse a possible Congress-led attack in Parliament when the next session begins.
Friday’s raids on Vadra’s office are obviously bound to create a new situation for the Congress. This is going to be so even if the party wins polls in Rajasthan and does better in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh than before, or as compared to the last time when the Assembly polls were held in the two States in 2013. A better outcome than before for Congress in the two States has already been predicted by the pollsters through this evening’s exit polls.
And, thus, the BJP wants to keep the control over the current political narrative that has of late been veering towards the issue of corruption. This is more so since Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his election speeches of last few days have been castigating Congress amid the arrival of Christian Michel James, an alleged middleman in AugustaWestland helicopters deal. James, a British subject has been extradited from UAE amid high level diplomatic efforts made by New Delhi. Modi could not hide the hope that James presently in the custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could well spill the beans against the top Congress family.
Thus, raids on Vadra’s office have come close on the heels of arrest of Christian Michel James.
The two events within a couple of days or so signify the Government’s move to reinforce its narrative of alleged corruption against the Congress’ top leadership’s family. The initial response of Congress party to this has been fiercely directed against the Prime Minister. The head of AICC’s communications department Randeep Singh Surjewala dubbed Modi as a virtual “don”. The Congress leader accused PM of “lording over a criminal empire to persecute and hound everyone opposed to him.”
So the bitterness and acrimony between the Congress and the ruling party as also between the leaders of both have been heightened even as the results of Assembly polls held since last month are awaited. Surjewala also attributed the move against Vadra as a result of the possible defeat of the BJP in the polls held in five States.
As the impending results of the Assembly polls are going to shift the focus once they are out to next year’s countrywide general elections both warring sides are sparing no efforts to make the most out of the current spell of polls. Congress feels that the latest moves against Vadra and before this the arrest of James have been made by the Government to corner Congress and push the party onto the back-foot even if it is able to romp home in some of the States that went to the polls since past few weeks or so.
Thus, the days to come are not only going to decide the fate of five States and their Assemblies but will also determine the contours and shape of the next year’s bigger battle for the post of country’s Prime Minister.
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