Opposition unites to condemn Kejriwal arrest, Stalin warns of 'people's wrath'

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi said lowering the level of politics in such a manner suited neither PM Narendra Modi nor his government

File photo of Arvind Kejriwal (source: PTI)
File photo of Arvind Kejriwal (source: PTI)


Soon after the arrest of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday said targeting the AAP leader during elections was wrong and unconstitutional, and lowering the level of politics in such a manner suited neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi nor the BJP-led Union government.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Kejriwal from his residence in Delhi on Thursday evening, officials said, shortly after Delhi High Court refused to grant the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader protection from coercive action in an excise policy-linked money-laundering case.

"Targeting Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in this manner during elections is completely wrong and unconstitutional. Lowering the level of politics in this manner suits neither the prime minister nor his government.

"Fight your critics in the electoral battle, confront them boldly and of course, attack their policies and working style — this is democracy. But in this way, using the power of all the institutions of the country to fulfil one's political objective and weakening those by exerting pressure is against every principle of democracy," Gandhi said in a post in Hindi on X.

She said the bank accounts of the country's largest Opposition party, the Congress, have been frozen, all political parties and "their leaders are under pressure day and night from the ED, CBI, I-T, one chief minister has been put in jail and now, preparations are on to take another chief minister also to jail. Such a shameful scene is being seen for the first time in the independent history of India," the Congress leader alleged.

The AAP has alleged a "huge conspiracy" behind Kejriwal's arrest ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and accused the BJP of stooping to any level to make him bow down.

In Mumbai, opposition stalwart and Nationalist Congress Party (SP) chief Sharad Pawar strongly condemned the arrest of Kejriwal and said "it showed the depth to which the BJP will stoop" for power. "The arrest of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal showcases the depth to which BJP will stoop for power. 'INDIA' stands united against this unconstitutional action against Arvind Kejriwal," Pawar said in a post on X.

In Kolkata, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) also condemned the arrest and wondered what the fate of democracy will be if opposition leaders and elected chief ministers were arrested before elections.

Police remove a protestor from outside Kejriwal's residence (photo: PTI)
Police remove a protestor from outside Kejriwal's residence (photo: PTI)

"The election process has begun. And now this! Chiefs of political parties, CMs, political leaders, election agents, workers, every opponent- being harassed & arrested like this. What will be the fate of our precious democracy," TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O'Brien posted on X. C

Condemning the arrest, especially when the EC is in charge and the model code of conduct (MCC) is in place, O'Brien said, "Earlier, his administrative powers were snatched through an illegal ordinance. How can we expect fair elections in India if sitting CMs and prominent opposition leaders are arrested weeks before polls? If SC and ECI fail to act now, who will stand with people against BJP's oppressive politics in future?"

In Chennai, Tamil Nadu chief minister M.K. Stalin slammed the arrest of his Delhi counterpart, calling it part of a "relentless persecution" of opposition parties.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, "driven by fear of a decade of failures and the imminent defeat, the Fascist BJP Govt sinks to despicable depths by arresting Hon'ble Delhi CM following the unjust targeting of brother @HemantSorenJMM," he said in a post on X. "Not a single BJP leader faces scrutiny or arrest, laying bare their abuse of power and the decay of democracy. The relentless persecution of opposition leaders by the BJP govt smacks of a desperate witch-hunt."

"This tyranny ignites public fury, unmasking the BJP's true colours. But their futile arrests only fuel our resolve, fortifying the #INDIA alliance's march to victory. BJP, brace for the people's wrath!" he added.

Senior Congress leader from Puducherry, V. Narayanasamy, also condemned the arrest of Kejriwal. The former chief minister said the arrest is a "political vendetta" unleashed by the NDA government against the opposition, particularly in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls. 

Meanwhile, the BJP demanded Kejriwal's immediate resignation and Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva told reporters, "Today, every citizen of Delhi is satisfied that the chief minister, implicated in allegations of corruption, has finally been arrested. The arrest of Arvind Kejriwal is the defeat of corruption. Kejriwal should resign immediately."

In Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan denounced the arrest of Kejriwal, alleging that it was a deliberate move aimed at quelling dissenting voices, particularly as the electoral process gains momentum.

"Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's arrest is highly objectionable. The move is part of a deliberate attempt to silence opposition voices at a time when the electoral process gains momentum. This demonstrates the cowardice of those who fear the democratic process," Vijayan said in a statement.

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