Election Commission officials on Tuesday met Revenue Secretary AB Pandey and Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman PC Mody amid allegations raised by Opposition parties that the ruling BJP was using agencies under its control to target them ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, PTI reported.
Income tax or Enforcement Directorate raids have been conducted in recent days onTelugu Desam Party leaders in Andhra Pradesh, in Congress-Janata Dal (Secular)-ruled Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s aide Praveen Kakkad, and a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader in Tamil Nadu.
An Election Commission statement said that “all issues arising out of the advisory of the Election Commission of India...regarding all enforcement actions being neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory and its implementation were discussed in detail”.
The Election Commission had on Sunday written to the Finance Ministry advising that all actions by its enforcement agencies during election time should be “absolutely neutral, impartial non-discriminatory”. It also said that the poll body should be kept in the loop about suspected cases of illicit use of money for elections.
In response, the Revenue Department told the poll body on Monday that its operations were based on “actionable intelligence”, according to NDTV. “We understand the words ‘neutral’, ‘impartial’ and ‘non-discriminatory’ mean that we must act as and when information is available against anyone, irrespective of political affiliation. This is precisely the practice that the department follows and will continue to do so,” the response reportedly said.
The EC objected to this tone in Tuesday’s meeting, unidentified officials told The Indian Express. “It was made known that the tone wasn’t acceptable to the Commission,” an official said. “They have been told that the Commission would not want to get into all raids undertaken by I-T authorities, but expects to be suitably informed of ones that are related to electoral malpractice. They should inform the CEO and submit a full report after the investigation is complete.”