'Modi insult' leads to Indian opposition MP's arrest

Pawan Khera mixed up Mr Modi's name with scandal-hit tycoon Gautam Adani's in a 'slip of the tongue'

India's Prime Minister, whose full name is Narendra Damodardas Modi, was referred to as 'Narendra Gautam Das'. Bloomberg
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A spokesman for India’s Congress Party was on Thursday removed from a flight at a Delhi airport and arrested after apparently taunting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Pawan Khera, a senior leader in the party, who was intending to travel to Raipur city on an IndiGo flight, has instead had a criminal case filed against him.

Mr Khera referred to the Prime Minister as "Narendra Gautam Das" at a recent press conference, a remark that appeared to draw attention to the right-wing leader's alleged closeness with scandal-hit billionaire Gautam Adani. The Prime Minister’s full name is Narendra Damodardas Modi.

His party, the BJP, accused Mr Khera of insulting Mr Modi.

Congress has repeatedly accused Mr Modi of supporting the rise of businessman Mr Adani, who is embroiled in a financial scandal over alleged corporate malpractice and market manipulation.

Mr Khera has apologised for the comment, saying it was a “slip of tongue”.

Nearly 50 Congress leaders who were on board left the plane in protest over his detention, calling the arrest “undemocratic” and describing police actions as “dictatorial behaviour”.

Congress spokeswoman Supriya Shrinate shared a video on Twitter of Mr Khera being escorted on to a bus.

“He’s being taken into the bus by the Assam Police. Isn’t this dictatorship? Is this the reality of your right to freedom to speech?” she said.

The matter was brought before Chief Justice of India Dhanajaya Yeshwant Chandrachud and the Supreme Court granted Mr Khera interim bail until Tuesday.

Updated: February 23, 2023, 12:01 PM