Raising the issue of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) summons to Congress leaders in Parliament, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday accused the central government of trying to demoralise and intimidate the Opposition.
Pointing out that he has been summoned by the ED at a time when Parliament is in session, Kharge asked if it was fair on the part of the agency to do so.
Speaking during the Question Hour, after an uproar from the Opposition over the alleged misuse of agencies by the government to target leaders, Congress leader Kharge said, “This House is functioning and I am the leader of the opposition parties. But right now, I have received summons from the ED to appear before it when a Parliament session is on. Right now, when Parliament is functioning, is it fair on the part of the ED to summon me?”
Stating that he is a law-abiding member of the society and has to leave for the ED office at 12.30 pm, Kharge said, “I do not want to avoid the law and I want to follow the law.”
He also mentioned that the residences of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi have been gheraoed by the police. “If we carry on like this, will our democracy remain alive? Will we function as per our Constitution? This is being purposely done to demoralise us, destroy us and intimidate us. But we will not be afraid or intimidated and will fight,” he said, demanding that there be a discussion on the issue in the House.
Leader of the House Piyush Goyal, however, responded by claiming that the government does not interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies.
He further said the Congress leaders should face the law and not run away from it and allow Parliament to function. Hitting back at the Congress with the same accusation, Goyal said, “They (Congress) may have been interfering in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies when they were in power…
“Our government does not in any manner interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies and allows them to do their work. Their government used to interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies. Our government has not done anything like this,” he said.
Goyal said if anyone has done any wrong, the law will take its course. “Whatever the LOP said is totally baseless. The matter has gone to the Supreme Court. The Congress leaders are on bail and the Congress leaders and the LOP should follow the law instead of running away,” he added.
Goyal also appealed to the Opposition members to allow the House to function. “They should not insult the chair,” he said as the Opposition members kept raising slogans in the Well of the House while the chair continued with the Question Hour amid the din.
Jairam Ramesh, the Congress’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, also alleged that “Modishahi” is reaching a new low as Kharge was summoned by the ED in the middle of a Parliament session.
“Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, was summoned by the ED when Parliament was in session. He, of course, left around 12:20 pm and presented himself. This is Modishahi reaching new lows,” the former union minister tweeted.
With inputs from PTI