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Opposition Condemn Arvind Kejriwal’s ED Arrest as ‘Deliberately Targeted’, ‘Blot on Democracy – News18

File photo of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

Kejriwal is the second sitting CM to be arrested by the central agency, following the arrest of Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren on similar charges in January

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal was arrested on Thursday by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) over allegations related to the Delhi liquor excise policy.

Kejriwal’s arrest came after the Delhi High Court rejected his plea for relief against potential coercive action. It is alleged that the AAP received kickbacks amounting to Rs 100 crore, which were purportedly used to fund elections in Punjab and Goa.

Kejriwal is the second sitting Chief Minister to be arrested by the central agency, following the arrest of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren on similar charges in January.

‘Murder of Democracy, Misuse of Probe Agencies:’ Opposition leaders react

On Friday, several leaders and politicians criticised his arrest, calling it a part of the Central government’s crackdown on opposition figures.

West Bengal’s Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee strongly condemned the arrest, labelling it a targeted attack on opposition leaders while those with ties to the BJP remained untouched.

Banerjee announced that representatives from the ‘INDIA’ bloc would be meeting the Election Commission to protest the arrests of opposition figures.

“I vehemently condemn the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal, the sitting elected Chief Minister of Delhi elected by the people. I have personally reached out to Smt Sunita Kejriwal to extend my unwavering support and solidarity. It’s outrageous that while elected opposition CMs are being deliberately targeted and arrested while individuals accused under CBI/ED investigations are allowed to continue their malpractices with impunity, especially after aligning with the BJP. This is a blatant assault on democracy,” Banerjee wrote in a post on X.

Former Rajasthan Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot slammed the BJP-led Centre for what he saw as the misuse of central probe agencies, stating that it was unprecedented for leaders holding constitutional posts to be arrested.

“The arrest of first the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Mr @HemantSorenJMM and now the Chief Minister of Delhi, Mr @ArvindKejriwal is the pinnacle of misuse of central agencies. It is being seen for the first time in the country that leaders holding constitutional posts are being arrested,” Gehlot said in a post on X in Hindi. The work of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is now “limited to political sabotage”, the senior Congress leader said, adding, “This is democracy being murdered.”

Another senior Congress leader, Digvijaya Singh, deplored Kejriwal’s arrest, stating that it represented an unconstitutional emergency in the country where the voices of opposition and democracy were being suppressed.

“His fault was that he became an INDIA bloc partner… I strongly castigate the arrest,” the Rajya Sabha member told reporters.

National Conference Vice-President and former J&K CM Omar Abdullah described Kejriwal’s arrest as a stain on democracy, indicating a high level of nervousness within the ruling party. He affirmed his party’s support for Kejriwal and the AAP.

“Aisi Taisi Democracy. For all the talk of 400+ seats, the ruling dispensation is displaying a remarkable degree of nervousness. Having a sitting opposition CM arrested by a pliable central agency within days of the general elections being announced is a blot on democracy. @JKNC_ stands with @ArvindKejriwal & @AamAadmiParty,” Abdullah wrote in his X post.

BJP Rebukes AAP’s Jail Governance Assertion

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised the Aam Aadmi Party’s assertion that Kejriwal would continue to govern from jail, calling it as an insult to the law and democracy.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur questioned whether Kejriwal considered himself above the law, stating that he ignored nine summons from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and refused to join the probe.

“Does he think he is above law,” the Union minister asked, further adding, “His decision to continue as chief minister is an insult to the people of Delhi, law and democracy,” Thakur stated.

While BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused AAP leaders of spreading falsehoods and affirmed that those involved in corruption would face legal consequences.

(With inputs from PTI)

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