‘There has never been such systematic corruption before the electoral bonds’: Ajoy Kumar

AICC general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu says central agencies like ED are engaged in “organised criminal activity” targetting the opposition.

Published : Apr 12, 2024 12:35 IST - 6 MINS READ

Congress general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Ajoy Kumar addressing media persons in Chennai on February 22, 2024.

Congress general secretary in charge of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, Ajoy Kumar addressing media persons in Chennai on February 22, 2024. | Photo Credit: VEDHAN M

The Karnataka-born Ajoy Kumar got an MBBS degree in 1985, switched careers to join the IPS in 1986, and then joined a private firm. In 2011, as a member of Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), he contested from the Jamshedpur Lok Sabha constituency and won. After losing in 2014, he joined the Congress and was appointed its national spokesperson. Ajoy Kumar served as the president of Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee from 2017 to 2019. He moved briefly to the Aam Aadmi Party in 2019 before coming back to the Congress in 2020. In 2022, he was made one of the 47 members in the Congress Steering Committee set up by party president Mallikarjun Kharge. In this interview, Ajoy Kumar talks lambasts the controversial Electoral Bonds scheme, asserting that it has enabled “mind-boggling corruption” on an unprecedented scale. Excerpts from an interview.

As a former IPS officer, how do you see the current situation where opposition parties alone are targeted by Central agencies such as the ED and the CBI?

There is a huge danger to the basic construct of India from the governance perspective. The IPS and IAS officers have been compromised for many years. But there was always a line which I don’t think anyone crossed. You must keep the actions of the government official in two buckets. One, when they make money for their personal self. Two, when they are driven by an ideological agenda and enriching a political party. In States, you have IAS and IPS officers becoming favourites of politicians. I had been a Superintendent of Police but was never asked to report on opposition activity. But now in Telangana, BRS is facing a major phone-tapping charge. Were the agencies misused before? They were. But on a scale of zero to one million, it was perhaps five. Today, on the same scale, it is at a billion. This is organised criminal activity—raiding companies, extorting money through ED and CBI, handicapping political opponents so that one political party can win. Earlier, it happened at an amateurish level, and the logic was that it never won you elections. Now, it is based on wiping out elections through government agencies.

Does the issue of Electoral Bonds find resonance with the people?

The Electoral Bonds were not an issue until the numbers were made public. Take, for instance, the alleged liquor scam in Delhi, in which the kingpin, Sarath Reddy, of Aurobindo Pharma, became an approver. He donated immediately after the raid. The actual “liquor scam” is Bharatiya Janata Party getting money. The tunnel which collapsed in Silkyara in Uttarkashi was funded by Navayuga Engineering [it has also donated through electoral bonds]. There has never been such organised, systematic, and mind-boggling corruption before the electoral bonds. Thirty-three companies who have donated Rs.500 crore have a combined loss of over Rs.1 lakh crore [aggregate net losses], but they still gave money. So, they must be shell companies, no?

What impact will the arrests of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren have on the ground?

The JMM will do very well in the tribal seats. The BJP in Jharkhand is strong in urban areas but Hemant Soren is now seen as a hero. Even with Arvind Kejriwal, the people think the BJP has done wrong to him.

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“The Prime Minister doesn’t care about the nation and only cares about winning one or two seats in Tamil Nadu. For that, will you compromise your neighbour?”

After the Prime Minister raked up the Katchatheevu issue, is there a rethinking in the Congress on the subject?

Katchatheevu was a political, strategic, and diplomatic decision that brought India a lot of benefits at that time. Here is a Prime Minister who has never mentioned Sri Lankan Tamils even once till this election. The relationship between Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu is deep but also has its own challenges. When the government takes a decision, it keeps national interest in mind and it never uses international issues to compromise national security. Here, we have a Prime Minister who gave a thousand times more land to Bangladesh than what happened in Katchatheevu. Even when he gave, we didn’t want to politicise it because the neighbouring countries are very important for India’s national security. The Prime Minister doesn’t care about the nation and only cares about winning one or two seats in Tamil Nadu. For that, will you compromise your neighbour? Why would you create an anti-India feeling in Sri Lanka and give the Chinese a chance? The issue of the Tamil fishermen is a separate one. The Prime Minister has not done anything for them. As Prime Minister, for a few Lok Sabha seats, to compromise international relationships, it is something only an RSS person can do.

The Congress election manifesto has some important promises like increasing wages under MGNREGA to Rs.400 a day, raising the 50 per cent cap on reservation for SC, ST, and OBCs. How will the party take it to the masses in such a short time before the election?

We are doing door-to-door campaigning and using social media. People understand our campaign well. One lakh to every poor woman [under the proposed Mahalakshmi scheme]—Chidambaram did the economics; if we give one lakh to every woman, there will be no poor families in five years. It brings people out of bone-numbing poverty.

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While your alliance partners like the DMK and the CPI(M) have explicitly mentioned CAA and said the law will be scrapped/repealed, the Congress manifesto has no mention of the CAA.

Our perspective has been that any religious discrimination is illegal. No law discriminating on the basis of religion or caste should ever be passed and we should scrap all such laws. CAA will obviously be scrapped in the sense that any law which discriminates based on caste or religion goes against the tenets of the Constitution. I will give you an example. It [CAA] is against Tamils, who are Hindus, in Sri Lanka. It should be scrapped only on that basis. We are definitely against the CAA for the ways it is discriminatory. It is purely a political tool for Modi to increase the temperature between communities. This law has only been made to increase hate and serve a political purpose. It is not done in the benefit of the country. The CAA, for its discriminatory nature, will be reviewed and necessary corrective steps will be taken.

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