The Congress on Wednesday condemned the arrest of Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister V Senthil Balaji by the Enforcement Directorate, and alleged it was nothing but "political harassment and vendetta" by the Modi government.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Balaji under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), making him the first minister in the M K Stalin-led government to face such action from a central agency.
Balaji was arrested after a long session of questioning, official sources said, even as the 48-year-old minister was admitted to a city government hospital after he complained of uneasiness.
"Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge condemns the late-night arrest of Tamil Nadu Electricity Minister Shri V. Senthil Balaji by the ED," the Congress said in a statement.
"This is nothing but political harassment and vendetta by the Modi government against those opposed to it. None of us in the Opposition will be intimidated by such brazen moves," it added.
"Such gross misuse of investigative agencies against political opponents has been the hallmark of the Modi government," the statement further said.
Party leader Amitabh Dubey said, "This is part of a long-standing pattern of the Modi government which is to misuse state agencies like ED, CBI and others to harass political opponents, put them under pressure and ensure that there is no level-playing field in Indian politics." Dubey said figures clearly show that ED and CBI action against opposition leaders during the UPA was around 55-60 per cent, while that during the Modi government is around 95 per cent.
Congress leader Vineet Punia said the Modi government's policies right from the beginning have seen a set pattern to raid, defame, trouble, file cases and then disqualify.
"What is happening in Tamil Nadu is a pattern adopted across the country. These agencies are misused and they stand discredited as all their actions are aimed at the opposition, including the Congress, and such people who are disliked by the government and who are capable of condemning any wrongdoing of the government," he said.
Punia asked why no action was taken on those against whom the ED had initiated proceedings before they got "washed in the BJP's washing machine" by joining the party. The entire country is watching this pattern, he said.
"Modiji, India has had a great tradition that we have never seen politics in such cases, it may have happened in our neighbouring country," the Congress leader said.
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