The Congress on Thursday lashed out at the government over the arrest of former finance minister P Chidambaram, accusing it of using the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate as a personal "revenge-seeking departments" and termed it as a broad daylight "murder" of democracy.
The senior Congress leader was arrested on Wednesday night by the CBI in the INX Media money laundering case and he spent the night in the agency's custody.
"Over the last two days India witnessed the broad daylight murder of democracy and the rule of law by a government hell bent upon using the CBI and the ED as personal revenge-seeking departments for the party in power," party chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a press conference.
"The vindictive, selective and malicious manner in which former finance and home minister Chidambaram has been persecuted and prosecuted is nothing short of a brazen personal and political vendetta," he charged.
Surjewala said with the narrative on a sinking economy spiralling out of their control and amid unprecedented job losses, devaluation of the rupee and crisis in all sectors leading to shutting down of factories and trade, "we now see the depths to which a desperate Modi government 2.0 will stoop to divert the nation's attention".
The Congress leader said after over five years of futile investigation, for an alleged offence that took place in 2008, the authorities are unable to come out with any clear or precise allegation or a compelling case against Chidambaram.
"This leads to only one unmistakable conclusion - false charges are being heaped upon senior political rivals to silence anyone and everyone in the country," he alleged.
Holding that democracy was being murdered through propaganda, he said the spectacle was being run by the BJP through some news channels against the former finance minister.
"We, as a nation, must rise up and refuse to be silent spectators to the death of democracy. We stand with P Chidambaram and reiterate our unwavering belief in his innocence," he said.
Training his guns at CBI officials, he hoped the officers who scaled walls of Chidambaram's residence in their eagerness to please their political masters, as also select TV channels, have the courage to tell the prime minister and home minister, that there is "zero evidence" of any case against him.
"We have faith that the rule of law, which is under attack from the ruling BJP government, shall prevail and the life and liberty enshrined in the Constitution will not become a dead letter," he said.
Surjewala said while many accused in the INX Media case have not been arrested, a senior politician has been arrested without any legal basis, even as there is no charge against him to either influence a witness or interfere with the gathering of evidence.
"Except for a vicious and venal vendetta there was no other foundation to arrest him. Except for the blatant intent of the BJP Government to humiliate and tarnish the reputation of Chidambaram there was no occasion or reason to arrest him," he said.
The case seems to rely solely upon the testimony of one approver-currently in prison-on trial for the shocking and alleged murder of her own daughter for which she continues to face trial, he said.
"A seasoned politician was arrested on the statement of a woman charged with murder of her own daughter", Surjewala said referring to Indrani Mukherjea.
Chidambaram, the Congress spokesperson said, is one of the most respected economists and politicians and has cooperated fully with investigating authorities so far and has neither evaded any proceeding nor has intended to.
Despite the hostile atmosphere prevailing under the patronage of the BJP Government, there was no allegation against Chidambaram vis-à-vis either influencing a witness or interfering with the gathering of evidence in any manner, he said.
He challenged authorities to place in public domain the nature of charges against Chidambaram instead of engaging in public spectacle through news channels to character assassinate him.