India: Released from prison, opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal calls on country to fight “dictatorship”

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi and one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's main opponents, on Saturday May 11 called on India to fight "dictatorship", the day after his release from prison on bail so that he could participate in the legislative elections in progress

India: Released from prison, opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal calls on country to fight “dictatorship”

Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of Delhi and one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's main opponents, on Saturday May 11 called on India to fight "dictatorship", the day after his release from prison on bail so that he could participate in the legislative elections in progress. “I came to beg 1.4 billion people to save my country,” he said at a press conference. “Save my country from this dictatorship,” he said, as India holds this election until June 1.

Arvind Kejriwal also attacked the Prime Minister personally, accusing him of using the justice system to sideline his opponents. Narendra “Modi has embarked on a very dangerous mission (…). He will send all opposition leaders to prison,” he said. Mr. Kejriwal, 55, is one of the leaders of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (India), a grouping of around thirty opposition parties. He was arrested and taken into custody on March 21 by India's top financial crime agency. The regional government of Arvind Kejriwal is accused of having received bribes in the awarding of alcohol sales licenses to private companies – which it disputes.

Few doubts about a victory for Mr. Modi

More than a thousand supporters cheered him as he left Tihar prison, in the Indian capital. “They threw me in prison and the prime minister says he is fighting corruption (…). If you want to fight corruption, learn from Arvind Kejriwal,” the opponent further said.

Arvind Kejriwal will have to return to police custody before the last day of polling on June 1. “There is no doubt that serious charges were brought, but he was not convicted,” argued two Supreme Court judges. “He has no criminal history. He does not pose a threat to society,” they said. His release was conditional on his undertaking not to make any public statements about the charges against him, not to interact with witnesses in the case and not to visit government offices in Delhi.

Nearly a billion Indians have been called to take part in elections that began on April 19 to choose a new government, in the largest democratic exercise in the world. Many analysts consider Mr. Modi's victory to be a given, particularly because of the popularity of his Hindu nationalist policy, the country's religious majority.