Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar, recently released on bail after spending 50 days in Tihar jail in connection with a money-laundering case, said on Saturday it was a new “beginning” of his political journey as he returned to Karnataka to a rapturous welcome.
“This is not the end; this is the beginning,” he told thousands of supporters soon after arriving in the city.
“I have not taken bribe or cheated anyone, yet they punished me,” he said before heading to the state party office where another reception awaited him.
“I don’t shed tears. If at all I do, I tear up seeing your love and affection,” Shivakumar, visibly overcome, added. “You have seen how people, including my mother and daughter, were harassed.”
The Enforcement Directorate had last month arrested the Karnataka Congress trouble-shooter, who had staved off alleged poaching attempts by the BJP in at least two states, after questioning him in New Delhi in connection with a Rs 7-crore money-laundering case. Shivakumar’s daughter too had appeared before the ED while his mother and wife were issued summons.
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi was among those who had visited Shivakumar in jail. Shivakumar met both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi after his release.
On Saturday, Shivakumar stepped out of Kempegowda International Airport on Bangalore’s outskirts to a rousing welcome. Former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy of the Janata Dal Secular was among leaders who received Shivakumar at the airport.
“If I have done anything wrong, if I have not obeyed the law of this country, let God punish me, let law punish me,” Shivakumar later told a news conference at the party office. “Let there be any investigation by any agency. I am ready to answer questions and face the investigations.”
He said he would reveal more details later. “This is not the place. I will produce all documents on my assets.”
The Congress leader said he was from a rich family of farmers. “Do you know how much of agricultural land I have always had? I am an agriculturist by birth, a businessman by profession, an educationist by choice and a politician by passion.”
Earlier, the reception Shivakumar got was virtually a show of strength for the most powerful Vokkaliga community leader in his party.
Shivakumar was driven in an open vehicle to Sadahalli Gate, just outside the airport, where close to 10,000 Congress workers waited for him, along with folk dancers, drummers and a gigantic 20ft garland made of apples.
Some Congress legislators and his brother, Lok Sabha member D.K. Suresh, rode with him on an open truck to the Congress office, some 30km into the city, accompanied by hundreds of motorbike-borne supporters.