New Delhi: Amidst exhaustive police arrangements across central New Delhi, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appeared before the Enforcement Directorate at its office here. The questioning took almost nine hours in two shifts. He has again been summoned on Tuesday at 11 am.
The permission to march with Mr Gandhi to the ED office was denied to senior party leaders and workers. Mr Gandhi reached the ED office at 11.08 am and left at 2.08 pm for lunch, when he visited his mother, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the Congress president, who has been admitted to Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, for Covid-related complications. He returned to the ED office at 3.35 pm and the questioning continued till 9.25 pm.
Sources said the ED officers are looking into the manner in which Mr Gandhi and Mrs Sonia Gandhi were made directors in the new company Young Indian. Also, how the entire loan of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the company which owns the National Herald newspaper, which is worth Rs 90.21 crores, was being written off for a paltry Rs 50 lakhs once Young Indian came into existence. Earlier, Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Kumar Bansal had also been questioned in the case. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has also been called for questioning. She will appear before the ED once she recuperates from Covid-19. Sources said Mr Rahul Gandhi has written down his answers under Section 50 of the PMLA law. The ED is also looking at how the entire chain of AJL equity shares were taken over by Young Indian.
The Congress had planned a massive dharna and march to the ED office over the summons to its leader. However, the Delhi police did not allow the Congress leaders to go with him and detained almost the entire Congress leadership at several places across the national capital. Though the march was scheduled for 10 am, since the morning the Delhi police started rounding up Congress workers and leaders to pre-empt the show of strength. Speaking to reporters in New Delhi, where he had come to attend the march, Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel said: “For the last eight years, Central agencies have continuously registered cases against the leaders of the Opposition… There is a continuous misuse of Central agencies to suppress us. This cannot happen under a democracy which is getting strangled; we oppose this.”
Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said: “This is nothing but politics. Had there been a legal point in this case, it would not have taken eight years for action. This is their [BJP] method to harass people, but we will not be scared. We will continue to fight.”
The Congress said AICC general secretary (organisation) and Rajya Sabha MP K.C. Venugopal was manhandled by the Delhi police. AICC communications chief Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “A deadly attack was launched on Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal by the police. MP Shaktisinh Gohil was attacked. Congress workers were beaten up. Thousands are in jail. Democracy has been trampled on. The country will not forgive the Narendra Modi government.”
He further added that the glasses of former Union home minister and Rajya Sabha MP P. Chidambaram were thrown and he suffered a hairline fracture in his ribs, while Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tewari was thrown on the road and has a head injury as well as a broken rib.