Commentary on Political Economy

Thursday 21 March 2024



India’s Main Opposition Congress Says It’s Being ‘Crippled’ by Modi’s Party Before Polls

  • The main opposition party’s bank accounts were frozen
  • Prime Minister Modi seeking a third straight term in office
India’s Congress party president Mallikarjun Kharge, center, with Sonia Gandhi, left, and Rahul Gandhi at the Congress party headquarters in New Delhi on March 21.Photographer: Arun Sankar/AFP/Getty Images

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India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, accused the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of trying to “cripple” the party financially, weeks before the country heads to the polls.

Sonia Gandhi, the party’s former president, made a rare appearance at a press conference in New Delhi on Thursday, saying the party was under a “determined assault” from the government.

Last month, the Congress party said its bank accounts were frozen because of investigations by the country’s tax agency into irregularities in filing past returns. The party said it’s largely unable to access the funds in its accounts.

Gandhi stressed that the party, despite these hurdles, intended to maintain the “effectiveness” of its ongoing campaign to challenge Modi, who is vying for a third consecutive term in office.

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The Congress party is on the backfoot ahead of the elections, with most polls pointing to Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party returning to power.

In a statement posted on X, BJP president J.P. Nadda said the Congress party was “conveniently blaming their irrelevance on ‘financial troubles’.” Defending the Income Tax Department, Nadda added that the opposition party was asked to pay the taxes due but it did not do so.

Rahul Gandhi, appearing alongside his mother Sonia at the briefing, said the party was unable to conduct normal campaign activities like paying its workers, publishing pamphlets, and buying campaign advertising.

“The idea that India is a democracy is a lie,” Rahul Gandhi said. The government’s actions are “being orchestrated to cripple us before the elections.”

“This is a criminal action against the Congress and the democracy of the country and the prime minister is responsible for it,” he added.

    (Updates with a comment from BJP in sixth paragraph)

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