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Won't be intimidated, will keep asking hard questions: Cong on Shivakumar's arrest

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(Eds: Updating with Shivakumar's tweet) New Delhi, Sep 4 (PTI) The Congress hit out at the Narendra Modi dispensation on Wednesday over D K Shivakumar's arrest, asserting the opposition party won't be intimidated by the "politics of persecution" and will continue to pose "hard questions" to the government. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in a tweet, said Shivakumar's arrest is "another example of vendetta politics unleashed by the government, using agencies like the ED/CBI and a pliant media to selectively target individuals". Shivakumar, who is in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate, said "political vendetta" has become stronger than the law in this country. In a video posted from Shivakumar's Twitter handle on Wednesday, he is seen sitting on a chair with policemen standing around him. "Political vendetta has become stronger than the law in this country," he is heard saying in the video. Senior Congress leaders from Karnataka went to meet Shivakumar who had been admitted at RML hospital, but the police and the authorities were adamant to block their visit, Congress general secretary in-charge organisation K C Venugopal said. "They are not even ready to disclose his health condition. This is condemnable," said Venugopal, who was among the leaders who went to meet Shivakumar. Earlier, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari alleged that there was a "complete breakdown of governance" in the Modi government's second term while claiming that there was an economic slowdown, an "undeclared emergency" in Kashmir and a tense situation in Assam, where over 19 lakh people have been rendered "stateless" following the publication of the updated final NRC. At a press conference, he alleged that in order to cover up this "complete breakdown of governance", continued "persecution" of opposition leaders was being carried out and the arrest of Shivakumar was the latest in a series of "political vendetta". "D K Shivakumar's only crime was that he provided protection to those Congress MLAs of Gujarat who were being poached by the NDA-BJP during the Rajya Sabha elections," Tewari said. The Enforcement Directorate arrested Shivakumar in the national capital on Tuesday in connection with a money-laundering case after grilling the Congress' Karnataka troubleshooter repeatedly over the past few days. "Has there been any conviction of any opposition leaders in the last five years? For the last five years, this politics of persecution has been carried on relentlessly against opposition leaders of every shade and hue," he said. Tewari said the reason that there has not been a single conviction by any court of law is that there is a difference between persecution and prosecution. "Persecution only requires misuse and abuse of state instruments. When the lawyers of the government plead for custodial interrogation in the courts of law, it is an euphemism for physical, mental and emotional torture of their political opponents," he said. "What you have been witnessing in the last five years is not unbiased, neutral prosecution but subjective, arbitrary and whimsical persecution being carried out by investigating agencies at the behest of their political masters," Tewari told reporters. The Indian National Congress is not going to be cowed down and it is not going to be intimidated. As the premier political party of the country, it will continue to ask the "hard questions", the party spokesperson said. "We will continue to demand answers, we will continue to agitate and we will continue to keep democracy alive in this country. We will not allow democracy to be stifled through intimidation being perpetrated by the NDA-BJP government," he said. PTI ASK ASK NSD NSD

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