Legitimate action against corruption not vendetta, says Arun Jaitley amid outrage over IT raids

The senior BJP leader rues that none of the two state governments in Karnataka and MP has responded to the allegations of corruption

NEW DELHI: It is now routine practice to term any action against corruption “political vendetta”, said Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in a Facebook blog post on Wednesday. His comments come amid massive outrage across the country over the recent string of pre-poll raids by the Election Commission and the Income-Tax Department.

“It has become a routine practice to call any action against corruption as political vendetta. Claim of vendetta has never been a legitimate defence in corruption. Those who commit such large acts of corruption have to be judged on the merits of the action itself,” said the Finance Minister.

A series of raids were carried out by the IT Department and the Election Commission (EC) on the members of ruling Congress and Janata Dal (S) alliance in Karnataka and their associates, including state Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy.

IT sleuths also raided the premises of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s close associates. Searches were conducted at the properties of Nath’s officer on special duty (OSD) Praveen Kakkar and associate Ashwin Sharma.

“In all States large amounts sanctioned by the Central and State Governments for public works, roads, housing, schools, dispensaries, panchayat facilities and several other public infrastructure, are created by Public Works Departments. These works are carried out by the PWD through contractors. Similarly, large amounts are sanctioned for the mid-day meal scheme which encourages poor children to attend schools and towards other schemes intended to provide a composite diet to pregnant women. In the public space evidence has come in relation to Karnataka where allocations made for public welfare to the Public Works Departments were being round-tripped by engineers for a political purpose. In Madhya Pradesh, an institutional mechanism has been created where money that is meant for development and social welfare of the weaker sections are now being channeled into politics,” says Jaitley.

The senior BJP leader rues that none of the two state governments in Karnataka and MP has responded to the allegations of corruption.

“Regrettably, none of the two State Governments have replied to the allegations on merits. An argument is being given by them as to why they are being singled out and their political rivals are not being searched. Is there a Right to Equality that no action can be taken till the opponents are charged? Revenue Departments act objectively on the basis of material available and take action when they are satisfied that a case of search operation is made out.

“The fact that money is meant for the most vulnerable section of the society, namely, poor children or pregnant women belonging to the economically weaker sections are siphoned out, shows the mind-frame of those indulging in such an act. They do not even spare those who live in destitution. This is the hypocrisy of Indian politics. After inflicting such injustice they have the audacity to speak of Nyay,” said Jaitley.