As the BJP tries to revive the Bofors issue, the Congress is attempting to get back at it by making corruption the main point of its attack on the BJP governments both at the Centre and in the states.
The Congress' Research Department has come out with a white paper on the 'systemic crippling of anti-corruption laws by Modi sarkar'. The issues listed include non-implementation of the Lokpal law, weakening of the Whistleblowers Protection Act, eroding of the Right to Information Act and electoral bonds.
The list includes the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh and the CAG reports castigating various ministries. As per the white paper, 31 per cent of BJP government ministers have criminal cases against them, and 18 per cent face serious criminal charges. It points out that in Maharashtra, 17 ministers of the BJP-led government are under the scanner for corruption.
“The record shows that Mr Modi's fight against corruption, the action level is absolutely zero, and until he takes action against his own colleagues, we will not believe and the nation will not believe a word further that he utters on the issue of corruption,” said Congress leader Rajeev Gowda, who heads the party's research department.
Coming at a time when it has fought off a fierce effort by the BJP to defeat its master strategist Ahmed Patel in the Rajya Sabha elections in Gujarat, the Congress has accused the saffron party of employing methods of coercion, intimidation and misuse of state agencies and money power to poach its MLAs.
The alleged transfer of slum dwellers' building rights to a prominent builder in Mumbai has been taken up by the Congress in a big way. The state assembly was not allowed to function, and senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan held a briefing in Delhi in a bid to give the issue a national relevance. He linked the issue to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, stating that the minister in question has the blessings of higher-ups in the party.
“Narendra Modi won the Lok Sabha election in 2014 promising a corruption free government. The time has come to live up to that promise,” Chavan said.
In Chhattisgarh, the party has raised the the issue of Chief Minister Raman Singh's son Abhishek's name figuring in the Panama papers. The issue of forest land grabbing by the wife of a minister in the Raman Singh cabinet has also been raised.
“We have raised the issue of land grab in the Vidhan Sabha and we have demanded that this minister be sacked. He has committed a criminal offence,” said P.L. Punia, AICC in charge of Chhattisgarh.