CPI(M), Congress stage protest in Kerala against arrest of Delhi CM Kejriwal

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Thiruvananthapuram, Mar 22 (PTI) Kerala on Friday witnessed widespread protests by activists of the ruling CPI(M) and the opposition Congress against the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by the ED, while the BJP defended the action by saying violation of the law has its consequences. Slamming the BJP-led Centre for targeting the opposition party leaders, the CPI(M) held a protest march in Kannur and party workers burnt an effigy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The DYFI, the youth wing of the ruling CPI(M) and the Congress party also took out a protest march to the Raj Bhavan in the state capital against the arrest. Shortly after the arrest of Kejriwal by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged excise policy-linked money laundering case, the DYFI had staged a massive demonstration in the state capital late Thursday night. In protest against the arrest of their leader, workers of the Aam Aadmi Party also took out a protest march to the BJP office in Ernakulam district. Addressing a press conference, senior Congress leader V D Satheesan told the media that the arrest was because the NDA camp was rattled by the strength of the INDIA alliance.

Accusing the central government of targeting opposition parties ahead of Lok Sabha polls, he said the funds of the Congress party have been frozen. Targetting the BJP over the electoral bond issue, he alleged that the saffron party's misuse of the central agencies and their corruption were evident through the electoral bond scam.

Taking strong exception to the arrest of the AAP leader, Thiruvananthapuram MP and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the timing of the arrest shows that the BJP has utter disregard for the democratic process.

He expressed hope that the Supreme Court would take action on its own against the arrest of the Delhi CM when the model code of conduct was in place. "I urge the people of the country not to allow those who have utter disregard for the democratic process to come back to power. The people need to strongly oppose such acts to protect our democracy. Whatever happened cannot be justified," he said. Addressing the media, CPI(M) leader M A Baby said the arrest of Kejriwal shows the BJP government's blatant authoritarianism. "Now the BJP and Modi have another name, Washing machine. Whatever the corruption you commit, you will be able to come out clean through the washing machine of the BJP," he said.

Hitting out at the BJP, the left party's Politburo member said Modi does not have the courage to face the elections. DYFI national president and Rajya Sabha MP, A A Rahim strongly condemned the arrest and said it will protest against the "fascist rule" of the BJP government. "The electoral bond scam is one of the biggest in the world and we can now see that the BJP is trying to divert attention from that by manufacturing other news," Rahim said.

However, the BJP leaders in Kerala backed the arrest by the central agency and said it was due process of law. BJP state chief K Surendran asked Satheesan whether he would protest if the central agencies were arresting the Kerala CM and his family. "We would like to know whether the Congress, which is protesting against the arrest of Kerjriwal, will agitate if any action is taken against the Kerala CM and his family?" Surendran asked. The BJP leader claimed that the same Congress leaders used to ask why the central agencies were not taking any action in Kerala. "Congress leader Ajay Maken used to ask the same question in Delhi. But now, after the arrest of Kejriwal, they are protesting. This shows the double standards of the Congress party," Surendran said. Meanwhile, Thiruvananthapuram NDA candidate and Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said if anyone violates the law, there will be consequences. "Kejriwal ignored the ED notice, and now he has been arrested. If anyone violates the law, there will be consequences, be it Kejriwal or any other leader," he said. Kerala Chief Minister Vijayan had denounced the arrest of Kejriwal, alleging that it was a deliberate move aimed at quelling dissenting voices, particularly as the electoral process gains momentum. PTI RRT RRT ROH