The latest arrest of a senior Congress leader and former Home and Finance Minister P Chidambaram is alleged, in the same way, as the government’s effort to increase pressure on the opposition.
When Anurag Kashyap, an Indian film director, received threats for speaking out against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime, he deleted his Twitter account in protest and said in his last tweet, "There isn't going to be reason or rationale. Thugs will rule and thuggery will be the new way of life. Congratulations everyone on this new India & hope you all thrive."
The ruling BJP is the most popular political force in India now. They have formed two consecutive governments under the leadership of Narendra Modi. This Modi mania is alleged to have saffronized India to the extent where intolerance and hatred have spread like an epidemic. The political opposition of the BJP has been silenced or sidelined. Religious intolerance is escalating and political dissidents are being threatened.
The latest arrest of a senior Congress leader and former Home and Finance Minister P Chidambaram is alleged, in the same way, as the government's effort to increase pressure on the opposition. Criticizing the government's move, the Congress has accused the government of exercising a vendetta.
"The vindictive, selective and malicious manner in which former Finance Minister & Home Minister, Shri P Chidambaram has been persecuted and prosecuted is nothing short of a brazen personal and political vendetta," Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said in a press briefing on Thursday.
What looks more alarming in India today is the misuse of government apparatus like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) for the interest of the BJP. The epic CBI mission to arrest former Kolkata police commissioner Rajeev Kumar sparked a massive outcry when opposition politicians blamed the BJP of using the CBI for its own political interest. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal, also accused the BJP of carrying out a political vendetta in the face of the CBI mission to arrest Mr. Kumar who is said to maintain warm relations with Ms. Banerjee.
The government mission to silence the opposition in the name of a war against corruption is an old game of autocratic and populist regimes around the world. These so-called campaigns against corruption, however, seem to fall short when it comes to the corruption of the incumbent regime.
In the wake of Mr. Chidambaram's arrest, The Hindustan Times said in editorial that "a crackdown on corruption is laudable, but it must always be within due process." Allegations have emerged against the BJP that the current government has selectively pursued corruption cases to target political rivals, and that cases against those leaders who have chosen to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or cooperated with it have often slowed down, The Hindustan Times writes.
The tale of political vendetta and using state apparatus in this pursuit is even worse in Pakistan where Imran Khan, the incumbent Prime Minister, has launched a vindictive mission to arrest his political opponents in a so-called anti-graft mission.
The security forces in Pakistan have locked down two former prime ministers- Nawaz Sharif and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and a former president- Asif Ali Zardari in prison in corruption and money laundering charges.
Imran Khan took charge as Prime Minister of Pakistan at a time when the country's economy was suffering badly. Mr. Khan came to power with promises to take his country out of the economic crisis. But even after a year he has not been able to bring any visible changes to the economy.
So, it didn't take a long for a shrewd politician like Imran Khan to play traditional blame games that politicians around the world practice to get rid of the mess around them. He began to arrest the top opposition leaders.
According to the exiled Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui, Mr. Khan "did go after some of these politicians, but the authorities have been unable to find anything substantive to return."
In the same line as the BJP government's tactics, many corrupt men of PM Khan's party have not faced any probes. Pakistani Journalist Mr. Taha said in an opinion published on Al Jazeera that "many corrupt members of Khan's party have not faced any probes" and in some cases, Mr. Taha goes on alleging that "the "accountability" judges were blackmailed into convicting Khan's political opponents without substantial evidence of wrongdoing."
In the face of Khan's imprisonment of political leaders, opposition leader Maryam Nawaz had been campaigning to protest the government's assault on opposing voices. She called upon the people to join her movement "to live in a free, democratic and just Pakistan."
Within a few weeks, PML-N vice president Maryam herself lost her freedom as she was also arrested, and the court granted multiple days of physical remand for the PML-N leader.
Allegations of using state apparatus for cornering the opposition is not alien to Bangladesh as well. Opposition and political experts have been accusing the governments of Bangladesh of using state apparatus to oppress dissents for years.
Under the very systematic structure of democracy, these misuses of state apparatus are like darkness beneath the light that may potentially encompass the whole institution of democracy.