Pawan Khera's arrest: Cong says Modi govt reduced democracy to 'Hitler-shahi', BJP says oppn leaders not above law

Congress leader K C Venugopal accused the BJP of targeting the party's plenary session and asked if India has become a banana republic.

Published: 23rd February 2023 05:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2023 05:15 PM   |  A+A-

Pawan Khera's arrest

Congress leaders stage a protest at the IGI Airport after Pawan Khera was allegedly deboarded from the plane in New Delhi, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023. (Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: The Congress on Thursday accused the government of reducing India's democracy to "Hitlar-shahi" and "dictatorship" as it reacted angrily to the arrest of Pawan Khera but the ruling BJP shrugged off the criticism, saying the opposition party's leaders should not live in this misconception that they are above the law.

Congress leader Khera was stopped at the Delhi airport from flying to Raipur to attend the party's plenary session and was arrested soon after by the Assam Police in connection with an FIR over his alleged derogatory remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Supreme Court, however, provided him relief by releasing him on interim bail till February 28.

Here are reactions:

1. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge lashed out at the government for the arrest, claiming that it is part of a pattern. "Notice is given to opposition members if they raise issues in Parliament and Enforcement Directorate raids are conducted on our leaders in Chhattisgarh before the plenary session," he said. "Today our media chairman (Khera) was forcibly deplaned and arrested. The Modi government has reduced India's democracy to 'Hitler-shahi'. We strongly condemn this dictatorship," Kharge tweeted in Hindi.

2. Congress leader K C Venugopal accused the BJP of targeting the party's plenary session and asked if India has become a banana republic. Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav slammed the BJP, saying this is the way it works as the "ruling party has no faith in law, constitution and democracy". It spends so much money on social media to target him, he alleged, noting that a member of his party was arrested for speaking against the BJP.

Condemning the arrest and deplaning of Khera, Venugopal said, "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. After half an hour, the 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.

3. BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia hit back at the Congress for protesting the police action, saying the opposition party's leaders should not live in this "misconception" that they are above the law and criticised them for their agitation on the Delhi airport tarmac. "Whatever is done is done lawfully. Congress leaders should not live under this misconception that they are above the law," told reporters.

He said the Congress is playing the "victim card" after using derogatory words against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his family members. The BJP leader said Congress leaders "flouted law" by starting protests on the Delhi airport tarmac and endangered the lives of fellow passengers. People were inconvenienced by the Congress' protests, he said.

"Modi enjoys the blessings of more than 140 crore people of the country and abusing him is like digging a hole in which the Congress will fall," Bhatia said. People will teach the Congress a lesson, he said.


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