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‘Third-rate’ politics of ‘vendetta, vengeance and harassment’: Cong on ED raids on its leaders in Chhattisgarh

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New Delhi: The Congress slammed the government after the ED conducted raids against its party leaders in Chhattisgarh on Monday, saying it was an example of “third-rate politics” of “vendetta, vengeance and harassment” and asserted that it will not be intimidated by such “tactics”.

This is not ‘Amrit Kaal’ but an “undeclared emergency”, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said at a joint press conference with party spokesperson Pawan Khera and termed the Enforcement Directorate as “Exterminating Democracy”.

ED conducted searches at multiple locations in Chhattisgarh, including at premises linked to Congress party leaders, as part of an ongoing investigation into the coal levy money laundering case, officials said.

The raids come days before the plenary session of the Congress party from February 24-26 in the state capital Raipur. The state is ruled by the party under Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

“If anything, these raids have increased our determination. If anything, these raids have given us a booster dose to be even more aggressive against the Prime Minister and his third-rate politics of vengeance, vendetta and harassment,” Ramesh told reporters.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge condemned the ED action and said 95 per cent of the raids conducted by ED in the last 9 years are against opposition leaders, and most are against Congress leaders.

“The raid on our Congress leaders of Chhattisgarh by the Modi government by misusing the ED shows the cowardice of the BJP before the Congress plenary session in Raipur. We are not going to be cowed down by these cowardly threats,” he claimed.

“Uneasiness of the BJP is visible due to the immense success of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. If Modi ji has even an iota of honesty, then he should order raids on the mega-scams of his ‘best friend’. We will strongly face this attempt to crush democracy,” Kharge said in a tweet in Hindi.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Baghel said the raids are an attempt to divert attention ahead of the party’s plenary session and would not be able to break the spirits of our leaders engaged in preparations for the session.

He said ED has raided the houses of many of my colleagues, including the treasurer of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee, the former vice-president of the party and an MLA.

“Four days later the Congress convention will be held in Raipur. You cannot break our spirits by stopping our comrades engaged in preparations like this. The BJP is frustrated with the success of ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ and the truth of Adani being exposed. This raid is an attempt to divert attention. The country knows the truth. We will fight and win,” Baghel said.

Ramesh alleged that the probe agencies are being misused by the present regime and said the new name of ED is ‘Exterminating Democracy’, while Khera said it stands for “Eliminating Democracy”.

He said where raids are supposed to happen, they do not take place, especially on the “scams” involving Gautam Adani and where the law has been violated. Raids may continue to happen and it will not deter us, he claimed.

“This is clearly the politics of vendetta, politics of vengeance, politics of harassment and this is supposed to be the curtain raiser for the 85th session of the Congress. We are not afraid and we have nothing to hide. We will not be intimidated. Mr Modi’s policy of FDI is fear, deceit and intimidation and we will not be afraid or intimidated by such actions,” the Congress general secretary said.

Khera said,”our advice is that the government should not forget that we are also in power in some states and our decency should not be considered as a weakness,” and warned the officials to be aware that the party will return to power soon and will deal with them.

“We are not going to be intimidated by such politics of vendetta and will not be cowed down by such actions,” he claimed.

“We have shaken this government by asking questions to the Prime Minister every day on the Adani scam. He is quiet on Chinese incursions, on Adani’s scams and where he needs to unleash the ED, he is not doing so,” Ramesh said.

Ramesh claimed the opposition leaders who have joined the BJP have been proven innocent after being washed in the BJP’s washing machine.

He said 17 opposition parties have already come together against the grant of powers to the ED under the PMLA and the opposition will jointly file the review petition in the Supreme Court against its previous judgement on the issue.

Khera said the Adani issue is actually bringing the opposition together.

“We want to ask Prime Minister Modi that when the media publishes something you carry out raids and when the opposition asks questions in Parliament then you expunge the remarks from the records.

“You forced the judiciary to hold a press conference and the law minister makes all kinds of statements against the judiciary and now the RSS magazine ‘Panchjanya’ has come out with a lead article alleging that the Supreme Court has become a tool in the hands of the anti-national forces,” he said.

Khera said our second question to the father of democracy is why don’t you answer and order a probe into the scam by your dear friend Gautam Adani.

Asked whether the issue will be discussed at the plenary session, Ramesh said he cannot pre-empt what the talking points in the plenary will be but certainly one of the themes in the political resolution is the misuse of investigative agencies, the subversion of constitutional bodies, the loss of independence of institution that underpins our democratic structure.

He said the Bharat Jodo Yatra was based on three pillars – to highlight the growing dangers of economic inequality, the increasing social polarisation based on religion, caste, language, ethnicity and political dictatorship.

All these three pillars will be discussed in Raipur, he said.

“Economic inequality will be one of the major themes of the economic resolution, social polarisation will undoubtedly figure in social justice resolution and this undeclared emergency we have in our country will certainly be discussed in Raipur. We have seen a perfect example of the politics of vendetta and vengeance in Raipur today,” he said.

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