Chidambaram, DK Shivakumar, Chandrababu Naidu. Who's next?

Chidambaram, DK Shivakumar, Chandrababu Naidu. Who's next?
Chandrababu Naidu (right) was the third high profile arrest or detention of opposition leaders in India after the arrests of Congress leaders D K Shivakumar (left) and P Chidambaram.

On Wednesday, the Andhra Police took former Andhra Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party leader N Chandrababu Naidu to preventive custody.

This was the third high profile arrest or detention of opposition political party leaders in India after the arrests of Congress leaders D K Shivakumar and P Chidambaram on different charges. Political vendetta appears to be the reasons for the arrests, which were preceded by high drama.

Naidu's arrest before protest march

Chandrababu Naidu and his son Nara Lokesh were put under house arrest minutes before they were to leave home to take out a 'Chalo Atmakuru' rally to protest the eviction of villagers in Palnadu region of Guntur district.

Naidu's followers alleged that TDP workers were being targetted ever since Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party came to power.

Naidu said the situation is horrible. "Many of our party leaders, including MPs and MLAs, have been taken into custody at various places. Several others were kept under house arrest. All this point to the nefarious mentality of Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy," News 18 quoted Naidu as saying.

"I will see how long they will keep me under house arrest. I will not be cowed down. I will stand by the victims and fight for their rights," he said.

BJP's bete noire

Soon after the BJP came to power in Karnataka, Congress strongman D K Shivakumar was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on September 3 for alleged money laundering. He has been in the agency's custody since then.

The ED arrested him after four days of interrogation because 'he was non-cooperative in responding to a number of questions.'

Shivakumar is Bharatiya Janata Party's bete noire in Karnataka. Though BJP emerged as the largest single party in the 2018 Assembly election, it could not put together the number of required legislators only because of Shivakumar's presence. Congress-JD(S) combine ruled the state for more than a year with Shivakumar's help. His tactics, however, failed recently with BJP pulling off a coup to form a government.

"Can it be an accident that D KShivakumar was the bulwark of tireless resistance to the BJP’s efforts to destabilise the Congress-led coalition government in Karnataka? While those politicians facing similar charges were not proceeded against once they joined the BJP," Shashi Tharoor, MP, said after his arrest.

"The arrest of D K Shivakumar is another example of the vendetta politics unleashed by the Govt, using agencies like the ED/CBI and a pliant media to selectively target individuals," Rahul Gandhi tweeted following Shivakumar's arrest.

Shivakumar has been under the scanner of the Income-Tax department over the last 5 years for various real estate and commercial deals he struck as a businessman and an investor.

Shivakumar's arrest too preceded by high drama. Immediately after his arrest, he was taken to the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. While Congress workers and media gathered outside the hospital, ED officials hoodwinked them and took Shivakumar to court through the back gate.

Chidambaram alleges vendetta

Former Union Finance Minister Chidambaram was the first high profile politician arrested during the second term of the Modi government. CBI officials had climbed the walls of Chidambaram's house to arrest him on August 22. The CBI registered an FIR in May 2017 for alleged irregularities in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearance to INX Media for receiving overseas funds to the tune of Rs 305 crore in 2007. Chidambaram was the finance minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at that time.

Chidambaram alleged on Wednesday that case is 'political vendetta' and the investigation agency is 'acting at the behest of the Centre.'

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