Wed, 17 April 2024
The Daily Ittefaq

India summons US diplomat over Kejriwal comments

Update : 27 Mar 2024, 19:19

India's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that it had summoned a US diplomat to protest, two days after Washington said it was closely following the arrest of a senior opposition politician and that it encouraged a "fair, transparent and timely legal process" in the case.

Local broadcasters showed the senior US diplomat Gloria Berbena entering the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday. 

"India's legal processes are based on an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes. Casting aspersions on that is unwarranted," the Foreign Ministry said. 

"In diplomacy, states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others," the statement continued. "This responsibility is even more so in case of fellow democracies. It could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents." 

India had issued a similar rebuke and summoned a German envoy over the weekend after the government in Berlin said it assumed and expected standards relating to independence of the judiciary and basic democratic principles would be applied in the case. 

Who is Arvind Kejriwal, why was he arrested? 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of the opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was arrested last week, along with much of the party's leadership, on allegations of corruption. 

His role is comparable with that of a governor in the US or a state premier in Germany. Cosmopolitan Delhi is one of comparatively few parts of India where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not hold the upper hand. 

Kejriwal alleges that the charges against him and his party are politically motivated and a bid to hamper their campaigning for the country's general election this year, which begins in mid-April and runs through early June. 

The BJP, meanwhile, says India's judicial system is prosecuting the party independently and denies any government interference. Some have questioned the timeline, with the AAP arrests starting soon after election dates were announced.

The AAP last month struck a deal to join forces with India's other main opposition party, Congress — despite a long and bitter rivalry between the two groups — in a bid to pose a more credible challenge to the BJP nationwide. In all, the alliance comprises dozens of parties, but AAP and Congress are the largest.

Still, most analysts perceive the BJP as favorites for the vote, with its policies resonant with many members of the country's majority Hindu faith. 

India a crucial Asian ally for West, but tensions with BJP also evident
India, now almost certainly the most populous country on the planet, is seen by Western countries as a crucial democratic counterweight to fellow giant China's influence in Asia. 

European and NATO countries have been trying to cultivate closer ties with New Delhi as a result. 

However, tensions between western countries and India have been evident in several spheres in recent years. The country's neutral stance on the war in Ukraine, given its historically close ties to Russia and the Soviet Union before it, has probably contributed somewhat to this. 

In more concrete terms, Modi's government responded starkly last year to allegations from Canada that Indian secret services appear to have been involved in the murder of a Sikh nationalist.

A similar subsequent investigation in the US, albeit pertaining to an alleged murder plot rather than a killing, has also strained ties. 

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