Narendra Modi, like Adolf Hitler, wants his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, to have ultimate power in Indian politics (BJP). To destroy the opposition, his government will use carrot-and-stick techniques. Eight years into Narendra Modi’s reign, India’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious democracy is under peril. After Modi’s BJP won a second term in 2019, the judiciary disintegrated. Justice A. M. Khanwilkar’s final two rulings disregarded constitutional rights and the presumption of innocence.
Khanwilkar began eroding these safeguards on June 25 when he disdained Zakia Jafri’s appeal for justice and pushed the Modi government to prosecute those who assisted her. On July 27, two days before he retired, he dismissed 242 petitions challenging the executive branch’s excessive powers to harass, impoverish, and imprison anyone accused of money “laundering” (concealing illegally obtained wealth from taxation using laws against economic crimes, such as the SFIO) (ED).
Eighty of these petitions were against amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which switched the burden of proof from the government to the accused. This permitted ED interrogators to pile up allegations against a suspect without prima facie evidence and to interrogate them ceaselessly in the goal of catching them in discrepancies that might be exploited for additional questioning or even jail.
Both the Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh administrations were aware of the implications of shifting the burden of proof in criminal proceedings. So, enquiries were made. In 2002-2014, the Enforcement Directorate filed 112 cases and performed 112 searches. From June 2014 till Modi assumed office in March 2022, the Enforcement Directorate launched 5,310 cases, conducted 3086 searches, attached Rs 104,702 crore (1.4 trillion) in assets, and issued 880 charge sheets—a huge rise from the preceding eight years.
The PMLA has failed to discourage financial and economic crimes by every measure. The Modi government appears determined to maintain it in its failing state. Modi has been misusing the Act since 2015, particularly after introducing eight further changes in 2019. This initiative aims to turn India into a one-party state by controlling or eliminating opposing political parties.
Modi has always been sure he’d be India’s prime minister for life. After becoming prime minister in 2014, he gave a speech detailing his 10-year aims. Modi started preparing after the next election from day one.
Since then, everything he’s done has reeked of hubris and a cruel desire to change Indian history. Nothing shows this more than his cavalier devastation of the Central Vista grounds in New Delhi to create a great new parliament building that the nation does not need and a luxurious new residence for the prime minister, which he plans to dwell in until at least 2034.
Hitler used a fire in the Reichstag, the German parliament, that he may have caused to become chancellor for life in 1933. Modi’s method is more effective. This is to destroy the opposition parties one by one till the BJP rules Indian democracy.
In the unwisely broad powers given to police and central investigative agencies by previous governments, he has found all the instruments he needs to achieve his goal. He has used them for eight years to fracture political parties, dissolve non-BJP governments in the states by getting defections, and remove significant opposition individuals who fail to respond to his threats and blandishments.
His previous weapon was the CBI. Amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in 2019 converted it into the National Investigative Agency (NIA), while eight revisions to the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 2019 changed it into the Enforcement Directorate.
Modi has relied on the PMLA and ED to shatter or tame the opposition in the previous two years. The CCP limits the CBI’s ability to act arbitrarily against government targets, while the PMLA does not. The CBI requires clearance from all participating state governments before investigating a cross-state crime. The Delhi Police Act compels states to get approval. Only “with state Police aid” was it feasible.
Under the PMLA, the Enforcement Directorate is not needed to offer a justification for interrogating anybody from anywhere in the nation, may interview them for hours without a defence counsel present, and can use contradictions in their answers as grounds for arrest and detention. Its power in this respect transcends that of the CBI and state police, who can’t use a self-incriminating statement unless it’s repeated in court.
The PMLA does not require the Enforcement Directorate to provide detainees a copy of the ECIR, the agency’s FIR. Finally, bail is more harder to secure under the PMLA than under criminal law since the ED often argues that the defendant has enough money to influence witnesses and depart the country. Realizing that directly targeting Kejriwal would backfire on the BJP, he has shifted the Enforcement Directorate onto Satyendar Jain and now Manish Sisodia. The logic is simple. After its triumph in Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is considered as a national force that may contend with and perhaps defeat the Congress and BJP in next state elections.
With elections in Himachal and, more crucially, Modi’s home state Gujarat, a campaign to depict the party as corrupt seemed inevitable.
Modi saved his biggest blow for the Gandhis. The three summonses to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi’s 50-hour interrogation, and the sealing of the Young India offices in the National Herald building were all part of the ED’s plan to debase the Gandhi family, snuff out what little political power Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi had left, and elevate Modi to India’s supreme leader.