Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the National Herald money-laundering case. She has been summoned again on July 25. The 75-year-old Gandhi reached the ED office after she left from her 10 Janpath residence at 12 pm today along with Rahul and Priyanka. She was questioned for three hours by the ED. While the Congress claimed that the ED had nothing to ask Gandhi after 3 pm, the central agency claimed that Gandhi had requested for early leave. Taking to Twitter, Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram wrote, “The ED had no more questions after 3 pm. Despite Mrs Sonia Gandhi offering to continue to be available for questioning, the ED concluded the questioning today. We were allowed to leave the Kingsway Camp police lines at 4 pm. On my way home.”
The ED questioned Sonia Gandhi’s association with the Young India Private Limited, the acquisition of the debt-ridden AJL, the subsequent use of AJL’s properties and if the company was associated with any non-profit activities. Gandhi holds 38% shares in the company, while she is also a director. Several Congress leaders, including 75 MPs were detained and sent to different police stations across Delhi. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot’s security had tried to resist the Delhi police officials from arresting Gehlot. The leaders were released after Gandhi’s questioning was over. Protests at several places in the country also took a violent turn, with Congress workers blocking the railway track and stopping a train in Delhi and youth workers burning a car in retaliation for Sonia Gandhi’s deposition before ED.
Earlier, the Congress MPs had left the Parliament for the party headquarters at Akbar Road, along with anti-Modi and anti-ED posters, shouting, Sansad sey Sadak taak. There was a five-tier security outside AICC headquarters. The protesters were intercepted by the police during their march to the ED office from the AICC headquarters. Sonia Gandhi was accompanied by a doctor due to her ailing health, while her request for a lawyer was turned down. After organising nationwide protests across India during her son Rahul Gandhi’s deposition before ED last month, the party had once again decided to hit the streets today against BJP-led government’s “vendetta politics.” Earlier, the central agency had allowed Sonia Gandhi’s request for deferring her summons as she was recovering from COVID.
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Today, Sonia Gandhi had gone to ED office & was interrogated for 2-3 hrs, after which ED officials allowed her to leave as they didn't have anything else to ask. On this, Congress president replied that they can ask her as many questions as they want:Congress leader Jairam Ramesh
Angry Youth Congress workers burnt a scrap car as they stormed the streets of Bengaluru. This is just the beginning, don't know what will happen when Sonia Gandhi is called again, Karnataka Youth Congress Chief Mohammed Haris Nalapad told India Today.
Congress workers stop a train and block railway tracks at Shivaji Bridge railway station in Delhi.
Delhi | Congress workers stop a train and block railway tracks at Shivaji Bridge railway station as they protested against ED questioning of party's interim president Sonia Gandhi, in the National Herald case. pic.twitter.com/86dzRBPrSa— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday attacked the government over its alleged lack of willingness to discuss issues such as inflation and “misuse of agencies” in Parliament and asserted that “truth will prevail over dictatorship”.
“Discuss GST — House adjourned. Discuss inflation — House adjourned. Discuss Agneepath — House adjourned. Discuss misuse of agencies — House adjourned,” Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. (PTI)
Water cannons are being used to disperse Congress workers, who are protesting against Sonia Gandhi's ED deposition, in the national capital.
The BJP on Thursday criticised the Congress' protests ahead of the Enforcement Directorate's questioning of its president Sonia Gandhi as its “duragrah” (obstinate demand) for protecting the Gandhi family.
BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad noted that Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, have been accused of grabbing valuable assets of the Associate Journal Ltd, which publishes the National Herald newspaper. Their plea to quash the FIR has been dismissed by every court, including the Supreme Court, the former Union minister told reporters.
“The Congress has become a pocket organisation of a family, and now its assets are also being pocketed by the family,” he alleged, attacking the Gandhis. Both are out on bail in the case, he told reporters.
Gandhis floated Young Indian, in which Sonia Gandhi and Rahul have 76 per cent shares, to grab assets of the National Herald, he charged.
The Congress has dubbed the probe as the ruling BJP's political vendetta.
It has described its agitation against the ED's probe against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul in the National Herald case as “satyagrah”, a form of protest associated with Mahatma Gandhi. She is set to appear before the agency later on Thursday for questioning.
This is not “satyagrah” but “duragrah” against the country, its laws and its agencies, Prasad said. This is also a “duragrah” for protecting the family which has “pocketed” the party's assets worth thousands of crores of rupees, he alleged.
While Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP of misusing institutions, he does not want to answer the questions raised by probe agencies, the former law minister said.
He said the Congress had harassed then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots cases but Modi appeared before the agency probing the matter and the BJP did not carry out any protest like the Congress has been. Modi, now prime minister, came out clean, he said.
“The BJP respects institutions but look at the Congress. Its chief ministers and MPs, who are not attending Parliament, are sitting in Delhi. They are trying to demoralise the ED,” he said. (PTI)
A clash broke out between the police and the Congress workers.
#WATCH Guwahati, Assam | A clash-like situation broke out between Police and Guwahati Congress workers who were detained in the wake of protest over ED probe against Sonia Gandhi pic.twitter.com/qF5S4X8kH2— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Several senior Congress leaders including Shashi Tharoor has been detained by the Delhi police.
Delhi | Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot and others detained. "It is happening for the first time in the country that they are stopping dharna demonstration…," he says pic.twitter.com/Uu4PEpXUbc— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Congress' Sachin Pilot was detained while protesting against Sonia Gandhi's ED deposition.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot detained for protesting over ED probe against Sonia Gandhi. "There is misuse of agencies in the country… it's our right to protest in a democracy, but it is also being crushed upon…," he says pic.twitter.com/JQuqfUB3p4— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
As a part of the national protests, the Congress has hit the streets in Bihar's Patna.
“Everybody is equal before the law or not? Is the Congress president (Sonia Gandhi) a super human being? They (Congress) think they are above the law…,” says Union Parliamentary Affairs minister Pralhad Joshi after Lok Sabha House was adjourned amid sloganeering by Opposition MPs. (ANI)
“Modi govt has unleashed a relentless vendetta against political opponents through misuse of investigative agencies by targeting prominent leaders of various parties. We will intensify our fight against the anti-people Modi Sarkar,” said the Opposition in a joint statement.
Modi govt has unleashed a relentless vendetta against political opponents through misuse of investigative agencies by targeting prominent leaders of various parties. We will intensify our fight against the anti-people Modi Sarkar: Opposition in a joint statement pic.twitter.com/phRwF3s1eG— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Opposition presidential candidate Yashwant Sinha has hit out at the Modi govt over Sonia Gandhi's ED deposition.
I strongly condemn the attitude of ED to humiliate political leaders. The officers of ED shd have gone to her residence even if they had questions to ask of Sonia Gandhi.— Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) July 21, 2022
Addressing a press conference, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that there is an environment of fear in the country.
The way they (the ruling govt) are misusing central agencies including ED is an indication that the democracy is in danger. Our fight is to save the nation. Today, if they would have been in our place, they would have indulged in arson: Congress leader & Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot pic.twitter.com/u58J3cB9rL— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Congress workers protest ahead of Sonia Gandhi's ED deposition, while raising slogans against ED and the PM Modi government.
Delhi | Congress workers protest the ED probe against party chief Sonia Gandhi who is set to appear before the probe agency today in National Herald case pic.twitter.com/N1Bski8p7u— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Congress workers raise slogans supporting Sonia Gandhi at Delhi's party office ahead of her ED deposition.
#WATCH Delhi | Congress workers raise slogans at party office, extending their support to party chief Sonia Gandhi who is set to appear before ED today in connection with the National Herald case pic.twitter.com/UyzJwgMewv— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reached her mother's residence ahead of Sonia Gandhi's ED deposition.
Delhi | Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra reaches her mother Sonia Gandhi's residence, who will be appearing before ED today in the National Herald case pic.twitter.com/GdkrgO9Ykj— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Due to special arrangements, there'll be heavy traffic movement till 2 pm on Gol Methi junction, Tughlak Road Junction, Claridges Junction, Q-point Junction, Sunehri Masjid Junction, Maulana Azad Road Junction & Man Singh Road Junction. Avoid these areas: Delhi Traffic Police
Traffic Alert— Delhi Traffic Police (@dtptraffic) July 20, 2022
Kindly avoid Gol Methi junction, Tughlak Road Junction, Claridges Junction, Q-point Junction, Sunehri Masjid Junction, Maulana Azad Road Junction & Man Singh Road Junction between 0900 hrs & 1400 hrs on 21.07.22.(1/2)
Congress MP KC Venugopal gives suspension of business notice in Rajya Sabha on the issue of “misuse of central agencies in the country including ED, CBI and Income-Tax department to target and harass prominent leaders of a number of political parties by the ruling party.” (ANI)
Congress MP Manickam Tagore demanded a discussion on the misuse of central agencies in the parliament, asking if Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend.
We want a discussion in Loksabha on the ED misuse. Will Mr Shah allow ? Will Mr Prime minister come and join the debate? Without discussion parliament ????#EDmisuse https://t.co/hYQXlfVo2u— Manickam Tagore .B????????✋மாணிக்கம் தாகூர்.ப (@manickamtagore) July 21, 2022
Congress MPs Manickam Tagore and Gaurav Gogoi have given adjournment motion notices to discuss the issue of “misuse of law enforcement and investigative agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) by the Central Government.”
Monsoon session of Parliament | Congress MP Manickam Tagore gives adjournment motion notice in Lok Sabha to discuss "the misuse of Enforcement Directorate"— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Senior Congress leaders and party MPs gather at AICC office ahead of Sonia Gandhi's ED deposition.
Delhi | Morning visuals from Akbar road where Delhi Police has set up barricades in the vicinity of AICC headquarters— ANI (@ANI) July 21, 2022
Senior Congress leaders & party's MPs to gather at AICC office as Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi appears before ED in National Herald case today pic.twitter.com/3nq0tNRfUl
Last night the party’s official Twitter handle stated, “How can the ED scare Sonia Gandhi, whose ancestors changed the geography of the world.”
वो उस परंपरा से आती हैं,— Congress (@INCIndia) July 20, 2022
जिसने आज़ादी का तिरंगा लहराया
जिसने नेक इरादों से बुलंद भारत बनाया
जिनके पूर्वजों ने बदला भूगोल दुनिया का
और देश को मार्ग अंतरिक्ष का दिखलाया
उन सोनिया गांधी को
ED से क्या ख़ाक डरा पाओगे।
हर कदम चट्टान हैं हम,
हमसे नहीं टकरा पाओगे।।
Sharing a picture of party members gathering at Mallikarjun Kharge's residence a day ahead of Sonia Gandhi's ED deposition, Gehlot said that all leaders expressed their anger at how the Opposition voices in the country were being crushed.
सीनियर कांग्रेस लीडर,राज्यसभा में नेता प्रतिपक्ष मल्लिकार्जुन खड़गे जी के निवास पर मीटिंग हुई जिसमें किस तरह विपक्ष की आवाज को कुचला जा रहा है,ED टार्गेट बना रही है उसके खिलाफ सभी ने रोष प्रकट किया और कल कांग्रेस अध्यक्ष सोनिया गांधी जी के साथ पूरी कांग्रेस एकजुट होकर खड़ी रहेगी। pic.twitter.com/VYcviFimSO— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) July 20, 2022
The National Herald case relates to a equity transaction in which Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi are accused of allegedly misappropriating assets of Associated Journals worth over Rs 2,000 crore by paying a paltry sum of just Rs 50 lakh. The Gandhis, however, have denied any wrongdoing and have maintained that they have not derived any commercial benefit out of the transaction, but courts have found merit in the allegations against them. Besides the Gandhis, Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda are among the accused in the case. The case against the Gandhis and others was filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy before a trial court back in 2013.
The National Herald case involves three key players — Associated Journals Ltd, Young India Ltd, and Congress.