Set to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Saturday to face questioning in connection with the Delhi liquor scam, Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha, daughter of Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, lashed out at the BJP government on Thursday, accusing it of setting investigative agencies after political opponents and “torturing” leaders like her. On Friday, a day before the questioning, the BRS MLC will hold a day-long hunger strike at Jantar Mantar seeking passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill.
Kavitha said the Women’s Reservation Bill had been hanging fire for 27 years. Interestingly, Kavitha thanked UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi who she said was “instrumental” in bringing the Bill and ensuring its passage in Rajya Sabha in 2010. Since then, the Women’s Reservation Bill had been lying in cold storage, she said.
Kavitha said she expects representatives of over 18 political parties to participate in the one-day hunger strike which is being organised by her NGO Bharath Jagruthi. She said she has reached out to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and AICC general secretary in charge of organisation K C Venugopal and hoped the Congress would send a representative to participate in the protest.
Kavitha said the Congress must decide on its role and think beyond its own party in national interest. “The need for the Congress is to become a team player and work together to defeat the BJP in 2024,” she said.
On the Congress’s allegation that the BRS is the ‘B team’ of the BJP, she said all those parties which raise their voice against the BJP are often called ‘B team’ and ‘C team’. Asked where she thinks the Congress stands on larger Opposition unity, she said, “Where the Congress stands should be asked to the Congress.”
“We feel all the Opposition parties should come together. It is for the Congress to decide what is its responsibility towards the country. If the Congress still believes nothing can happen without it…then they should better fact check…because out of 4,000-odd MLAs in this country… the Congress has only about 600… Where is their number?” she said. “They have only 17 MLAs in Tamil Nadu where they are part of the alliance government. In Bihar, they are part of the alliance government… how many MLAs do they have? In Bengal, they have won one seat with much difficulty… The point is not for me to gun down the Opposition. The point is we should get united… But who should make that effort? Why should the burden be only on the other parties, only on the BRS?” she said.
Referring to the rally held by the BRS in Khammam recently which was attended by some Opposition leaders, she said, “So our efforts are on but about the Congress’s efforts and when will they shed their arrogance and see reality? That they will have to decide.”
Kavitha said she had urged the ED to examine her at her residence, arguing that it was a “fundamental right” of women to insist that agencies question them at their residence. “The law supports us and there are many judgments in this regard. So I requested the ED to come to my residence and bring along the accused too. But they did not agree,” she said.
Kavitha said she will approach the Supreme Court for a direction to the agencies to use video conferencing facilities to question women.
“Why was the ED in a rush to question me and choose a day before my protest?” she added. “If they can do this to a political face, imagine how much a common person, especially a woman, would have to bear.”
Lashing out at the BJP government, she said the Centre has been sending its agencies to Telangana since last June. “The question is why… Because Telangana has Assembly elections in November- December. Wherever there are elections, the ED reaches before [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi,” she said.
Kavitha claimed some 500 business houses had been raided by the Income Tax Department and the CBI had made 100 raids. “The ED has raided 200 places. The NIA has called 500 to 600 people and intimidated them… Some 15-16 leaders of our party leaders – MLAs, MPs and ministers – have been targeted.”
“We want to tell Modi, the BJP and the people of the country that we will not be cowed. They have failed the Army, the youth, and the farmers already,” she said.
The ED Director, SEBI chief and heads of the SBI and LIC are getting extensions because they toe the government line, she said, adding: “My simple question is why are you not giving extensions to the youth who are being inducted into the Army under the Agniveer scheme?”
Referring to the revelations against the Adani Group, Kavitha argued, “Modi is not clean as is being projected.” She said that the ‘double engine’ government stands for “Pradhani and Adani sarkar” and “works in the interests of only a few”.
She also accused the BJP government of lying all the time. “They lie about the GDP, development… The Prime Minister stands up in Parliament and lies. Is this politics?” she said. Kavitha asked the people not to give the reins of power again to “one nation, one friend” government.
Asked about her protest on Women’s Bill, she said invitations have been sent to women’s organisations across the country. “At least 500 to 600 people will sit on the hunger strike. More than 6,000 people have confirmed that they will join us. More than 18 parties have confirmed that they will join the protest,” she said.
In Hyderabad, IT and Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister K T Rama Rao, Kavitha’s brother, accused the Centre of targeting the BRS and CM KCR on the pretext of investigating the Delhi liquor scam. “The BJP’s double engine growth means one engine is Modi and another is Adani. One is a political engine, another is a financial engine. Together they are ‘Modani’ and they bend the rules so that Adani gets all the projects,” he said.