INDIA parties speak up for arrested AAP MP Sanjay Singh; Congress gives qualified support

Congress general secretary brings up arrest of party MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira in Punjab, which is ruled by AAP

October 05, 2023 09:29 pm | Updated 10:42 pm IST - New Delhi

Police use water cannon to disperse AAP workers protesting against the arrest of party leader Sanjay Singh by the Enforcement Directorate, in Chandigarh on October 5, 2023.

Police use water cannon to disperse AAP workers protesting against the arrest of party leader Sanjay Singh by the Enforcement Directorate, in Chandigarh on October 5, 2023. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Congress has extended qualified support to Aam Aadmi Party leader and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, who was arrested on Wednesday by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with its money laundering probe linked to the Delhi excise policy case.

Equating Mr. Singh’s arrest with that of Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira in Punjab, the party’s general secretary (organisation) K.C. Venugopal said, “We cannot become those we oppose”. The remark was also a swipe at the AAP government in Punjab over the arrest of Mr. Khaira.

The other parties in the INDIA bloc have wholeheartedly expressed support for Mr. Singh and criticised the BJP-led Union government for alleged misuse of investigating agencies.

In a late evening social media post on Thursday, Mr. Venugopal said that the AAP MP’s arrest takes the BJP’s vendetta politics to another level. “We stand in complete solidarity with him and reject the use of law enforcement agencies to settle political scores,” he wrote on X.

At the same time, Mr. Venugopal drew a parallel between the Congress’ opposition to Mr. Singh’s arrest and that of their Punjab MLA. He wrote, “For this reason, we also oppose the arrests of All India Kisan Sabha Chairperson Sh. @SukhpalKhaira ji and former Punjab Dty. CM Sh. OP Saini ji by the Punjab police. Democratic principles of a fair trial and authorities acting within the boundaries of the Constitution are non-negotiable. We cannot become those we oppose.”

The Congress has been careful on how it frames its response to the arrest of the AAP MP. At a press conference earlier, Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar, without naming Mr. Singh, said that the party condemned the action. He added, “Every time Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets anxious he fields the investigating agencies.”

Senior Congress leader Digivijaya Singh was the only exception in the party, to speak strongly for the arrested AAP leader. The Congress leader told reporters on Thursday that the arrest is an attempt to silence the AAP MP, who is one of the “strongest voices” in the Upper House against the government.

The DMK, the RJD, the JD(U) and the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) are among the parties to have issued strong statements criticising the Union government.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK leader M.K. Stalin said the BJP government’s “vindictive politics knows no bounds”. He said there was a “deliberate persecution of Opposition leaders” and called it an “assault on democracy”.

“The BJP is clearly afraid of the growing unity among Opposition parties. It’s time they stop their witch-hunt and focus on addressing the real issues,” Mr. Stalin said.

Echoing similar views, Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thackeray) leader Sanjay Raut termed the Enforcement Directorate a political tool. “In places where the BJP is not in power, these raids will continue,” he said.

The INDIA bloc has also linked the arrest with the 2024 election. Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said that the “public will give a befitting reply” to the Union government.

Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Manoj Jha said, “It is not the ED that has arrested Sanjay Singh, he has been arrested by the unit of BJP that comprises ED-IT-CBI.”

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