Rahul calls electoral bonds world’s biggest ‘extortion scheme’, attacks Modi | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Rahul calls electoral bonds world’s biggest ‘extortion scheme’, attacks Modi

Apr 17, 2024 02:35 PM IST

Rahul Gandhi addressed a press conference with Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav in Ghaziabad two days before it goes to the polls

Member of Parliament Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday called the now-scrapped electoral bonds the world’s biggest “extortion scheme” and Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “champion of corruption” as the Congress leader addressed a press conference with Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Akhilesh Yadav in Ghaziabad, which is due to go to the polls on April 26 in the second phase of national polls.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. (HT PHOTO)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav. (HT PHOTO)

He maintained there was a strong undercurrent in the opposition’s favour and that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would be reduced to 150 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

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Gandhi referred to Modi’s comment that the electoral bonds were brought for transparency and to clean politics in an interview with a news agency ANI, which he dismissed as “scripted” and a “flop show”, and asked if this is true, why did the Supreme Court scrap the scheme. “If you wanted to bring transparency, why did you hide the names of those who gave money to the BJP? And why did you hide the dates on which they gave them the money.”

He said no matter how much clarification Modi gives, it will not make any difference. “...the entire country knows that the Prime Minister is the champion of corruption,” Gandhi said.

Yadav also attacked the BJP over the electoral bond scheme, saying it has shaken the party. “They are not only taking corrupt people but also keeping the money earned by the corrupt...” Yadav said.

The Supreme Court in February struck down the electoral bond scheme of political funding years after it was introduced in 2018.

Gandhi cited “reports from every state” and said their situation was improving. “We have a very strong alliance in Uttar Pradesh and will perform very well…” he said.Gandhi said the 2024 election was about ideology. “...BJP and [its ideological fount] RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] are trying to destroy the Constitution and the democratic system...the [opposition] INDIA [Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance] and Congress are trying to defend and protect the Constitution and democracy.”

He called unemployment the biggest and inflation the second biggest election issue. “The BJP is engaged in creating distractions...Neither the Prime Minister nor the BJP talks about the issues,” he said.

Gandhi evaded a question on whether he would contest from his family stronghold of Raebareli and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. He said that he would follow whatever the party decides for him. “In our party, all these decisions are taken by the CEC [Central Election Committee].”

Gandhi accused Modi of hurting employment generation through policies such as demonetisation, wrong GST implementation, and by supporting billionaires such as Gautam Adani. He referred to Congress’s manifesto and said it includes the revolutionary idea of the Right to Apprenticeship. “The Right to Apprenticeship will be for all graduates and diploma holders...There will be training and we will deposit 1 lakh per year in the bank accounts of the youth. We are giving these rights to tens of millions,” he said.

Yadav called the INDIA bloc the “new hope” while praising the Congress manifesto, which promises a legal guarantee for MSP. “The day the farmers start getting remunerative prices for their crops, the country will be free of poverty.”

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    Fareeha Iftikhar is a Special Correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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