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New Delhi:

Terming the arrest of Karnataka Congress leader D.K. Shivakumar as a case of political vendetta, the Congress on Wednesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA government of targeting the opposition leaders to divert the attention of people from the issues of economic slowdown, abrogation of Article 370 and the NRC list which has excluded over 19 lakh people in Assam.

Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress leader Manish Tewari said: “The arrest of Shivakumar is the latest in the series of continuing political vendetta.”

Tewari said: “Shivakumar’s only crime was that he provided protection to those Congress MLAs in Gujarat who were being poached by the BJP-NDA during the Rajya Sabha elections in 2017.”

He said in the last five years, none of the BJP leaders have been prosecuted on any corruption charge.

The Congress MP from Punjab said: “In order to cover up the complete breakdown of governance and mismanagement of the economy, you see the continued persecution of the opposition leaders, especially the Congress leaders, who have the conviction and courage to ask hard questions to this BJP government.”

Shivakumar was arrested on Tuesday evening by the Enforcement Directorate following four days of questioning in connection with a money laundering case.

Shivakumar is the second leader of the Congress to be arrested in the last fortnight. On August 20, the CBI arrested former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in the INX Media case.

Slamming the government over the economic slowdown, Tewari said that in the 96 days of its second term, three words characterise this BJP-led NDA government’s time period — “tyranny, chaos and anarchy”.

“Today economic growth is at five per cent, but it is not only the percentage which is a cause of concern. Today, the fundamentals of the Indian economy are being subverted,” he said.

Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, Tewari said that the Prime Minister says the fundamentals of the Indian economy are strong and the Home Minister reiterates the statement.

“But has someone ever really questioned what does it mean when you refer to the fundamentals of the Indian economy,” he questioned.

Tewari underlined that unlike China, India is essentially a private economy, but given the present situation, there is absolutely no confidence or faith which people or investors have in the Indian economy.

“That is why the share of agriculture in our GDP has dropped to a record low of 14 per cent. Agriculture, which provides employment and sustenance to 65 per cent of India’s people,” he said.

He said the core Indian industries, the manufacturing sector, are growing only at 2.1 per cent because there’s no demand.

Hitting out at the government over the clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370, Tewari said, “For the last one month, there has been a complete shutdown in Kashmir, in every sense of the word. Jammu and Kashmir is in a state of an undeclared emergency where civil rights have ceased to exist.”

He said Kashmir is a volcano which can explode any day.

Tewari also targeted the government over 19 lakh people rendered stateless in Assam after the National Register for Citizens (NRC) was released on Saturday.

He said, “More than 19 lakh people have been rendered stateless after the publication of the last NRC draft.”

“Does the government have an endgame in mind, for those, who, as per the NRC process cease to be citizens of India?” he questioned.

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