The Congress was struggling on Thursday to get rest of the Opposition parties to hold a joint protest against the arrest of its senior leader P Chidambaram.
On its part, the Congress questioned the Supreme Court for resorting to “technicalities” in not listing Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail application for Wednesday itself. The apex court listed it for Friday, but it became infructuous once the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested him on Wednesday night.
Opposition leaders criticised the “insulting” manner in which the CBI arrested Chidambaram in the INX Media case. While some of them said the Congress was yet to reach out to them for any joint protest on the issue, others said the law should take its course.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a conference that Chidambaram’s arrest was “nothing short of a brazen personal and political vendetta”. He said the government was “hell bent upon using CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) as personal revenge-seeking departments for the party in power".
Surjewala said the Narendra Modi government hopes to divert people’s attention from a sinking economy, unprecedented job losses, devaluation of the rupee, and crisis in all sectors leading to shutting down of factories and trade.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the arrest was "depressing" and alleged that the judiciary was not coming to the help of a "crying" democratic system. She quoted Rabindranath Tagore and said the "message of justice is crying silently in isolation".
"P Chidambaram is an economist, and a former home minister and finance minister. The manner in which he has been arrested is depressing. There are four pillars of democracy: democratic institutions, Election Commission, media and judicial system. The democratic system of our country is crying, yet the judiciary is not coming to its aid," she said in a statement issued by the Trinamool Congress. She also alleged that media outlets have become spokespersons of the ruling BJP.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the law should take its own course, but the treatment meted out to the senior leader was "objectionable". DMK chief M K Stalin termed it a "political vendetta", while the Rashtriya Janata Dal attacked the BJP, claiming that all will be forgiven if you are with that party. "I saw on TV, the CBI officers scaling the walls (of Chidambaram's Delhi residence). I consider it as an insult to India. It is condemnable," Stalin said in Chennai.
The Nationalist Congress Party smelled a "political vendetta" behind the actions against Chidambaram and Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray.
Congress workers held protests in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh against the arrest.