ED questions Sonia Gandhi over the National Herald case; opposition calls it ‘political vendetta’

Congress workers across the country held protest meetings over the ED questioning Sonia Gandhi.

Published : Jul 21, 2022 18:26 IST

Congress MPs stage a protest at Parliament House complex to express their solidarity with the party chief Sonia Gandhi, in New Delhi on July 21, 2022.

Congress MPs stage a protest at Parliament House complex to express their solidarity with the party chief Sonia Gandhi, in New Delhi on July 21, 2022. | Photo Credit: Kamal Kishore/PTI

On July 21, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) questioned the Congress party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi for over two hours in the National Herald money laundering case, triggering massive protests by Congress workers across the country, including in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled States. From Chandigarh in north India to Guwahati in Assam, Congress workers poured out into the streets. In Chandigarh, water cannons were used to disperse protesters. Congress MPs held a protest holding placards within Parliament as well. Many leaders such as P. Chidambaram, Sachin Pilot, Shashi Tharoor, and others were detained.

This was the second time in the past fortnight that Congress workers have taken to the streets; the first time was when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was questioned last month over several days in the same case. Then, too, many senior Congress leaders such as P. Chidambaram and Adhir Ranjan Choudhary were detained.

The Congress has pleaded innocence in the National Herald case and the inquiry by the ED itself was based on a private complaint and not on the basis of a FIR registered by an agency. No “scheduled offence” had also been made out by the ED. Both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were questioned over their alleged association related to assets of the Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and the Young Indian, the publishers and owners of the National Herald respectively.

Meanwhile, apart from the Congress, 12 opposition party leaders issued a strong statement against the “misuse of central agencies”. The statement issued by the MDMK, the TRS, the CPI (M), the CPI, the Shiv Sena, the VCK, the NCP, the RJD, the IUML, the JK(NC), the RSP and the DMK read: “The Modi government has unleashed a relentless vendetta against political opponents through the mischievous misuse of investigative agencies. Prominent leaders of a number of political parties have been deliberately targeted and subjected to harassment in an unprecedented manner. We condemn this and resolve to and continue and intensify our collective fight against the anti-people, anti-farmer, anti-Constitution policies of the Modi sarkar that is destroying the social fabric of our society.”

Recently, the Central government issued a notice forbidding protests within Parliament precincts, inviting criticism from the opposition parties. The CPI(M) said that this was a unilateral undemocratic decision taken on the eve of the Parliament session without consulting other political parties.

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