Terming the arrest and deplaning of his colleague Pawan Khera from a Raipur flight condemnable, Congress leader K C Venugopal on Thursday accused the BJP of attempting to “derail” the party’s plenary session and asked if India has become a banana republic.
Khera was detained by the Delhi Police and subsequently arrested by the Assam Police in connection with his alleged remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a senior police officer said.
The action against the Congress’ media department head began with him being deplaned from a New Delhi-Raipur flight, leading to extraordinary scenes of protest at the tarmac by Congress leaders.
“It is totally condemnable the way they are doing these things. We are all going to Raipur for the plenary session, Pawan Khera was also travelling with us, suddenly they deplaned Pawan Khera without any valid reason,” Venugopal told PTI at the tarmac.
“After half an hour, Delhi Police comes and says they have to hand him (Khera) over to Assam Police. We asked if there is an FIR, arrest warrant or any document, but nothing is there, only oral orders,” the Congress’ general secretary in-charge organisation said.
How can this happen, has India become a “banana republic”? he asked.
Venugopal said the whole episode was “very unfortunate” and alleged that it was aimed at the party’s plenary session in the Chhattisgarh capital. “Three-four days back, they carried out raids in Chhattisgarh, now this,” he said.
Later, after reaching Raipur for the three-day plenary, starting Friday, Venugopal issued a statement and said Khera was arrested on totally “baseless charges, which were only trumped up because Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scared of being questioned on his relationship with Gautam Adani”.
He thanked the Supreme Court for being the voice of reason in these testing times. The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered grant of interim bail to Khera till February 28 in the case.
Khera could not board the late evening flight to Raipur as completion of formalities for his bail took time. He is expected to arrive in Raipur on Friday morning.
Venugopal said, “This charade is not going to deter us from raising questions about the manner in which the Modi government has systematically favoured the Adani group and is conspicuously silent on allegations of stock rigging, over valuation and ‘benami’ money being pushed through a web of shell companies against the Adani Group of companies.”
“Khera’s arrest was arbitrary and dictatorial and yet another cowardly attempt to derail the 85th AICC Plenary being held in Raipur,” he alleged. The Enforcement Directorate raided Congress leaders in Chhattisgarh, clearly timed to “intimidate” the party’s Chhattisgarh unit during the crucial planning stage of the plenary, he said.
“However, the BJP is totally misguided if it believes that such laughable intimidation tactics are going to dissuade us from exposing its corruption and misgovernance,” he said.
Venugopal said Khera is one of the most articulate voices of the party, who has consistently opposed and questioned the flawed policies and divisive agenda of the Modi government. “We stand with Khera and strongly denounce the high handedness of the government,” he said.
The ‘Haath Se Haath Jodo’ plenary will give a new vision to the country and start the countdown for the end of BJP’s misrule at the Centre, Venugopal said. “We are all geared up for this historic occasion, and no force can stop us from our mission,” the Congress general secretary said.