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ED questions Sonia for 6 hours; Rahul, other Congress leaders detained during protest

Sonia's questioning lasted six hours and she has been asked to appear again on Wednesday.

sonia gandhi, indian expressCongress President Sonia Gandhi with party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra arrives to appear before the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in connection with the National Herald case, in New Delhi. (Photo source: PTI Photo/Vijay Verma)

As the Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned Congress president Sonia Gandhi — her second appearance before the agency within a week — senior leaders and party MPs staged protests in Delhi and elsewhere in the country.

Several MPs of the party, including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, were detained by police outside Parliament as they tried to take out a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Sonia’s questioning lasted six hours and she has been asked to appear again on Wednesday.

The Congress deftly combined their demand for a discussion on price rise and hike in GST rates of essential commodities in Parliament with the protest against ED summoning Sonia in the National Herald case. There is a realisation among a section of the leadership that its charge of vendetta politics against the government is not finding much resonance among the people.

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In the morning, some of the opposition leaders wrote a joint letter to President Droupadi Murmu seeking her intervention on the stalemate in Parliament and drawing her attention to the “misuse of investigating agencies” by the Narendra Modi government. They said Parliament is stalled “entirely because of the stubborn refusal of the government to have an urgent debate on the pressing issue of price rise and increase in GST rates on essential food items.”

They said there are many precedents for “such an urgent debate but this time the government is adamant on not allowing it”.

Further, they drew the President’s attention to the “continued and intensifying misuse of investigative agencies by the Modi government as part of a systematic vendetta campaign against its political opponents”.

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“The law is law and must be enforced without fear or favour. But it cannot be used, as it is presently being done, arbitrarily, selectively and without any justification whatsoever against prominent leaders of numerous opposition parties. The sole aim of this campaign is to destroy reparations and weaken the forces fighting the BJP ideologically and politically,” the letter said.

“It is also being carried to divert the attention of the people of our country from their most urgent day-to-day concerns of price rise of essential commodities, increasing unemployment and loss of livelihoods and mounting insecurity of life, liberty and property,” it added.

The Congress MPs met in Parliament and then decided to take out a march to the President house. It would have liked other opposition leaders to join but that did not happen. The MPs including Rahul and Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge were stopped by the police at Vijay Chowk and taken to the Kingsway Camp police station. The police used mild force to put some of the MPs in waiting buses.

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congress protest, indian express Police detain Congress MP Rahul Gandhi during a protest march from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhawan against ED’s interrogation of the party’s interim President Sonia Gandhi in the National Herald case, in New Delhi. (Photo source: PTI Photo)

“India is a police state, Modi is a king,” Rahul said amid the commotion. “We wanted to go towards the President house but the police are not allowing us,” the former Congress chief said as police stopped him from marching towards the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“Look at the dictatorship, (we) cannot hold peaceful demonstrations, cannot discuss inflation and unemployment. By misusing the police and agencies, even by arresting us, you will never be able to silence us. Only ‘truth’ will end this dictatorship,” he later posted on Twitter. At the Kingsway Camp, the Congress leaders held a symbolic “brain-storming session”.

Kharge alleged that he, along with other Congress MPs, was manhandled by the police. “This is a conspiracy by the Modi-Shah duo,” Kharge said as he was being taken away by the police. “All Congress MPs (were) stopped at Vijay Chowk and prevented from marching to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Forcibly arrested. Now we are in police buses being taken to a place only the PM and HM know where…” posted Jairam Ramesh.

The Congress said it wanted to hold a “satyagraha” at Rajghat but was denied permission by the police. The ED had questioned Sonia for two hours in connection with an alleged money laundering case related to the National Herald newspaper on July 21. The agency had questioned Rahul in the same case for nearly 50 hours over five days last month.

First published on: 26-07-2022 at 08:32:02 pm
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