Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (File).

New Delhi: Remarks by the United States on Arvind Kejriwal‘s arrest are “unwarranted” and a strong protest has been lodged, the Ministry of External Affairs said during a routine press briefing Thursday.

“… yesterday India lodged its strong objection and protest with a senior official from the United States Embassy with regard to comments made by the State Department. The recent remarks are unwarranted. In India, legal processes are driven by the rule of law. Anyone who has similar ethos… especially fellow democracies… should have no difficulty in appreciating this fact,” the MEA said.

The MEA also snapped back at the US’ comments on the Congress’ claim that its bank accounts have been frozen – over unfair tax demands – just days before the 2024 Lok Sabha election. The Congress has said the hold on its bank accounts means it has no money to spend on its poll campaigns.

READ | “We Don’t Have Money To Spend”: Congress Chief Before Polls

The MEA underlined India’s “robust and independent democratic institutions” and said that “external imputation on our electoral and legal processes is completely unacceptable”.

The ministry spokesperson emphasised the Indian government’s commitment to protect the country’s judiciary and democratic institutions “from any form of undue external influences”.

“Mutual respect and understanding form the foundation of international relations and states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others,” the MEA said.

“Interference…”: India On US, Germany Remarks

The External Affairs Ministry’s strong-worded statement comes after the US on Wednesday reiterated calls for “fair, transparent, and timely legal processes” involving Mr Kejriwal’s arrest.

READ | India Summons US Diplomat Over Comments On Kejriwal’s Arrest

The US said it “continues to follow these actions closely” when asked about the meeting Wednesday between MEA officials and Gloria Berbena, the US’ Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in Delhi.

On the Congress’ tax row, the State Department said it is “aware of the allegations…” and that it encourages the Indian government to deal with both issues in a “fair and transparent” manner.

This back-and-forth has led to a degree of diplomatic tension between the allies.

Also, the US wasn’t the only Western nation to face India’s strong objections for interfering in its internal matters. The German Foreign Ministry had called for a “fair and impartial trial” for Arvind Kejriwal, who is the Aam Aadmi Party leader and the first sitting Chief Minister to be arrested.

READ | “Blatant Interference”: India Protests Germany’s Remarks On Kejriwal

India reacted strongly to the comment too, summoning the German envoy and labelling the Foreign Office’s remark “blatant interference in internal matters”. “We see such remarks as interfering in our judicial process and undermining the independence of our judiciary,” the MEA said.

This morning a Foreign Office spokesperson appeared to backtrack, declaring “the Indian Constitution… guarantees fundamental human values and freedoms”.

Kejriwal Arrested In Liquor Policy Case

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate last week in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam that has roiled his AAP and provoked furious protests from the opposition ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election. Mr Kejriwal was this week sent to jail till March 28.

NDTV Explains | Why Enforcement Directorate Arrested Arvind Kejriwal

The Enforcement Directorate believes the now-scrapped liquor policy provided an impossibly high profit margin of 185 per cent for retailers and 12 per cent for wholesalers. Of the latter, six per cent – over Rs 600 crore – were bribes and the money was allegedly used to fund the AAP’s poll campaigns.

The ED has labelled the Chief Minister as a key conspirator in this case, but Mr Kejriwal and party colleagues arrested in this matter – ex-Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh, and former Health Minister Satyendar Jain – have all denied the charges.

The AAP and the opposition have hit out at the BJP-led central government for using central agencies, like the ED, to target rivals and critics before the general election. The AAP has criticised Mr Kejriwal’s arrest on grounds it was timed to interfere with his plans to campaign for the party.

The BJP has dismissed claims it uses central agencies as described by the opposition.

Mr Kejriwal this afternoon was sent to the custody of the ED till April 1

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