Updated: September 4, 2019 8:04:14 pm
A day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) Tuesday arrested Congress MLA DK Shivakumar in connection with a case of money laundering associated with alleged hawala transactions, party leaders in Delhi as wells as Karnataka extended support to the embattled leader.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Wednesday rallied behind the former Karnataka minister and called it another example of vendetta politics. Karnataka bandh today LIVE Updates
The arrest of DK Shivakumar is another example of the vendetta politics unleashed by the Govt, using agencies like the ED/CBI & a pliant media to selectively target individuals.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) September 4, 2019
Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said, “The arrest of DK Shivakumar is another example of the vendetta politics unleashed by the Govt, using agencies like the ED/CBI & a pliant media to selectively target individuals.”
Condemning the move, several Congress leaders pointed out that DK Shivakumar had cooperated with the ED and had himself reached the national capital to face an inquiry.
Congress MLC Rizwan Arshad said Opposition leaders were being targetted by investigative agencies. “Only the opposition leaders are targetted by ED, IT and other agencies run by the Centre. What about the corruption cases against those in the BJP,” he questioned.
Arshad added, “The case against Shivakumar is neither corruption-related or linked to any scam. This attitude of the central government led by Modi is just to intimidate and push the opposition to the wall.”
Senior Congress leader and former MP Mallikarjun Kharge accused the BJP of harassing Shivakumar. “They (BJP) are trying to demoralise him and his supporters,” he said.
Meanwhile, as protests intensified across the state and in some areas of Bengaluru as well, senior Congress leader and former Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy urged DKS supporters to maintain calm.
“Protests need to be recorded in a peaceful manner. Workers and supporters should refrain from vandalising public property, buses, and the same,” he said. Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao directed party workers “not to take the law into their hands.”
However, some agitated protesters have taken to key areas in Bengaluru’s Central Business District (CBD) and marched to MG Road, where they burnt effigies of BJP leaders and burnt tyres. Traffic at MG Road was hit for almost 30 minutes.
At the same time in Delhi, Congress leaders were denied permission to visit DK Shivakumar, who was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for medical checkup. Bangalore rural MP and Shivakumar’s brother DK Suresh said, “I am not even allowed to see my brother to check on his situation now.”
Former MP and Congress spokesperson VS Ugrappa too was stopped from meeting Shivakumar at the hospital. “It is nothing but an undeclared emergency in the corners of the hospital. None of his party mates, including his own brother, are allowed to visit him to see his current state of health.”
Ugrappa said more than 300 police personnel and paramilitary force have been deployed around the hospital. “This is done only to victimise the Congress leadership. It was Chidambaram earlier, now it is DKS. This is a part of their revenge against him for protecting Gujarat MLAs during Rajya Sabha elections in 2017,” he said.
At the same time, Industries minister and former CM Jagadish Shettar said Central agencies were just doing their duty. “During the time of the UPA government, many leaders from the opposition were questioned and arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Income Tax (IT) officers. Politicising the issue by sending out supporters to the streets is not right,” Shettar said.
He added that the protests held by the Congress party against Shivakumar’s arrest would only bring down the party’s dignity.
Former Karnataka CM and JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy said the Central government was misusing their offices to suppress Opposition leaders.
“The Central government is misusing their offices to suppress the leaders of the opposition. I see no necessity in keeping him in custody for more days even when he cooperated with the inquiry on the auspicious day when Gowri Ganesha festival was celebrated,” he said.
Meanwhile, Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor reiterated that the arrest was “very clearly an example of political vendetta.”
“Such actions taken against an individual who has been cooperating throughout with the investigative agencies, whose places have been raided multiple times, who has not hidden anything, is clearly seen as punitive. The arrest just sends a chilling signal to the political opponents,” Tharoor said.
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