A day after the ED arrested AAP leader Sanjay Singh, the Congress came out in support of its INDIA ally and condemned BJP’s vendetta politics, but also used the opportunity to bring up the recent arrests of its leaders in Punjab. It also took a veiled dig at the AAP and said “we cannot become those who oppose”.
Breaking the party’s silence at the national level on the Rajya Sabha MP’s arrest in the Delhi liquor policy case, Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said on Thursday that law enforcement agencies were being used to settle political scores.
“AAP MP Sh. @SanjayAzadSln ji’s arrest by the ED 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,” Mr Venugopal said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
AAP MP Sh. @SanjayAzadSln ji’s arrest by the ED 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.
For this reason, we also oppose the arrests of All India…
— K C Venugopal (@kcvenugopalmp) October 5, 2023
The next two paragraphs of the post also had a message for the AAP. Mr Venugopal brought up the arrest of Congress MLA Sukhpal Khaira last month in connection with a 2015 drugs case and that of party leader and former deputy chief minister OP Soni by the Punjab Vigilance Department in July.
“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 (sic) 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 post read.
The arrest of Mr Khaira had led to a bitter squabble between the two INDIA allies. Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge had said the party will not tolerate injustice and those who are unjust “don’t survive for long” while the party’s Punjab President Amarinder Singh Raja Warring had called the arrest “an attempt to intimidate the opposition”.
A leader from the AAP’s state unit had said it would not form an alliance with a party that is “already so discredited” in Punjab. A day after the arrest, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had tried to soothe frayed tempers and asserted that his party was committed to the INDIA alliance and would not separate from it.
Tensions had been brewing even before the arrest, though. Punjab is one of the states that is likely to be difficult for the INDIA alliance in terms of seat-sharing for the Lok Sabha polls.
Days after the third meeting of the INDIA alliance in September, Punjab Minister Anmol Gagan Mann had said the AAP would fight on all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state and claimed this was the “direction” of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.
Congress Punjab chief Warring had also said the party is gearing up to fight on all seats.