‘Is BJP above the law? Is Mr Adani above the law?’

‘If they are not, then the Modi government should order a JPC immediately.’

Senior Congress leader Pawan Khera — chairman of the All India Congress Committee’s media and publicity department — was deboarded from an Indigo flight while on his way to attend the Congress plenary session in Raipur on February 23, then detained in connection with a case registered in Assam over a remark he made about Prime Minister Narendra D Modi.

“Personal attacks are BJP culture, not ours. PM Modi has not spared any top Congress leader with his rather personal and below the belt barbs,” Khera, who was given bail by the Supreme Court till March 17, tells Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com.

What did the Congress plenary in Chhattisgarh achieve in so far as finding ways and means to revive the party in states where it has lost power and stem the decline in its popularity across India?

The Congress plenary session in Chhattisgarh shall be looked as a key milestone in the rich history of the Indian National Congress.

We affirmed our commitment to the people of India that the Congress is, and shall remain a flagbearer of protecting democracy in this country.

We amended our constitution to give more affirmative representation to under-represented sections — SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities, youth and women at every level of our organisation.

This shall send a strong message to even those states where the Congress organisation is weak and attract manifold talent from every strata of the society to join and partake in the most vibrant democratic organisation in the country.

The ’50 under 50′ reservation has never been attempted by any party in India, and it is the Congress which has once again taken the lead to reach out to younger people so that they can participate in our continuous endeavour of nation building.

How is the Congress, under Mallikarjun Kharge’s leadership, planning to sustain the momentum and goodwill generated for the party during and after Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra?

Congress President Khargeji has announced a nation-wide programme to make the current government, particularly PM (Narendra Damodardas) Modi answerable, on his relationship with Mr (Gautam) Adani (the owner and promoter of the Adani group of companies which went into a tailspin after US-based Hindenburg published a report alleging manipulation of stock prices of group companies, round-tripping of funds in Adani companies, which the Adani group has vehemently denied).

We will carry our pardasfash (exposure of links between Gautam Adani and Modi) across India. We shall have district level protests and state level rallies throughout India.

As far as Mr Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is concerned, the party is planning the next leg and version of the Yatra. The Haath Se Haath Jodo Abhiyan, which is like a door-to-door programme to take forward the message of the (Bharat Jodo) Yatra, is already underway.

Why do you think you were not arrested soon after you left for the airport or on the way to the airport or at the airport? Was so much drama needed to have you under arrest?

First of all, there was no drama. I was asked to deplane without any written document or permission from a magistrate from Assam. The Assam police only had oral orders. My colleagues had the right to protest against that.

Apart from that, since the case is sub judice, and the hearing is underway, I do not want to say anything on that.

I am sure that justice will prevail and I have unflinching faith in the majesty of law.

How was it decided to sit in on a protest on the tarmac? How did you coordinate with your fellow party workers which later ended in a sit-in protest on the tarmac?

There was nothing to coordinate. The flight mostly had Congress colleagues going to Raipur to attend our plenary. There were general secretaries on the flight. It was a spontaneous and impromptu decision.

What explains your arrest? Would you say the Narendra Modi government is rattled by Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra and the way the Congress went all out in attacking the prime minister in Parliament, and outside it, over the Hindenburg report?

I have nothing to say because the matter is sub judice.

You looked unperturbed and calm while you were being taken away. What kind of conversation did you have with the cops from Delhi and Assam?

They were doing their job. And as a responsible citizen, I have faith in the law. As a leader of the Opposition party, I will raise issues to hold the (Narendra Modi) government accountable.

Do you feel intimidated given the flurry of charges against you?

I have never feared anyone. My leader tells us Daro Mat (don’t fear anybody) — our party symbol is Abhay Mudra.

Why is it that Narendra Modi brazens it out with his jibes whereas Pawan Khera has to apologise for his remark?

Personal attacks are BJP culture, not ours. PM Modi has not spared any top Congress leader with his rather personal and below the belt barbs. My leaders have always been very dignified.

Was it really a slip of tongue or did you want to do a Narendra Modi on Narendra Modi? Please be honest…

I have already clarified that it was a slip of tongue. The matter is sub judice and I will not comment on it.

What happens to your demand for a Supreme Court-monitored probe or formation of the JPC?
LIC’s investments in the group were showing notional profits compared to Rs 26,000 crore when LIC issued a statement just after the Hindenburg report was made public.

As per the latest reports (as on Monday, March 6), LIC has lost Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion) recently. Whose money is that? It belongs to its retail investors and its 29 crore (290 million) policyholders.

Why is this happening, because an invisible hand forced LIC to invest in a company that according to the Hindenburg report runs part of its businesses through a web of shell companies in tax havens?

The BJP says nobody in Congress should feel they are above the law.

Is the BJP above the law? Is Mr Adani above the law? If they are not, then the Modi government should order a JPC immediately. Period.

Your message to Narendra Modi and his government…

Do not make India a ‘Company Raj’ again!

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