India opposition members detained after arrest of top leader for graft

Opposition under pressure

AAP activists also staged protests in the eastern state of Odisha, the western state of Gujarat, and in Srinagar, the summer capital of the federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

“BJP wants to distract people’s attention from their corrupt practices,” AAP’s Odisha convener Nishikanta Mohapatra told reporters, referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“BJP knows that an honest leader like Arvind Kejriwal is capable of defeating them. This is why they arrested him,” Mohapatra said.

Kejriwal’s lawyers had petitioned the Supreme Court against his arrest but withdrew it on Friday saying they would fight it in the city court first.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is investigating allegations that a liquor policy implemented by the Delhi government in 2022, which ended its control over sale of liquor, gave undue advantages to private retailers.

The policy was subsequently withdrawn and the AAP government has said no evidence of wrongdoing has emerged in the investigation.

AAP is part of the 27-member ‘INDIA’ bloc which has dismissed graft investigations against multiple opposition leaders as a politically-motivated smear campaign by the BJP, which runs the federal government that controls the Enforcement Directorate.

The federal government and BJP deny any political interference and say law enforcement agencies are doing their job.

Opposition leaders have condemned Kejriwal’s arrest and accused Modi of seeking to squeeze and weaken the opposition ahead of the elections.

On Thursday, the main opposition Congress party accused Modi of crippling it before the upcoming general election by freezing its accounts in an income tax case, charges BJP denied.

“The question is, is Arvind Kejriwal above the law of the land? Can he indulge in corruption and not face investigative agencies?” federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur posted on X. “The truth is before the country.”