Congress leader Rahul Gandhi appeared before the Enforcement Directorate for the fourth time today in connection with the National Herald money-laundering case. After three straight days of questioning last week, the ED had allowed Gandhi’s request to defer his questioning till today owing to his mother Sonia Gandhi’s hospitalisation.
The 51-year-old former Congress chief arrived at the ED headquarters on APJ Abdul Kalam Road in central Delhi at 11.05 AM with his “Z+” category CRPF security escort. A huge contingent of police and paramilitary personnel was deployed around the federal agency’s office even as Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) has been imposed in the area like last week.
Meanwhile, top party leaders, including Mallikarjun Kharge, Salman Khurshid, K Suresh and V Narayanasamy sat on a ‘Satyagraha’ to protest against the ED action on Gandhis and the Centre’s ‘Agnipath’ recruitment scheme.
The party on Sunday said lakhs of its workers will hold peaceful protests today against the Modi government’s “vendetta politics” in targeting Gandhi and the Centre’s “anti-youth” Agnipath scheme.
Congress leader Ajay Maken today said that the party will hold Satyagraha at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar and a party delegation will meet President Ram Nath Kovind at 5 pm to demand withdrawal of Agnipath scheme.
The party on Sunday said it will also bring to the President’s notice the alleged manhandling and harassment of party MPs by the Delhi Police during their protests against Rahul Gandhi’s questioning by the ED in the money laundering case.
Senior Congress leaders, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, party’s leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, P Chidambaram, K C Venugopal and Ramesh, are set to meet meet Kovind and apprise him about the “unprovoked manhandling” of party MPs, which it alleged was in violation of all democratic norms.
Separate delegations of Congress leaders have already met Rajya Sabha chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and have sought action for violation of the rights of MPs and asked them to treat the same as privilege notices. The Congress had put up strong protests against the ED’s questioning.
The police had imposed prohibitory orders in central Delhi ahead of the Congress’ protest and also amid the Bharat Bandh called by protesters against the Centre’s Agnipath recruitment scheme. Traffic curbs have also been put in place in several parts of central Delhi.
In a series of tweets on Monday, the Delhi Traffic Police informed commuters about road closures.Due to special traffic arrangements, inward movement of buses will be restricted in New Delhi beyond Gol Dak Khana Junction, Patel Chowk, Windsor Place, Teen Murti Chowk and Prithviraj Road, it said.
“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 0800 hrs & 1200 hrs. Due to special arrangements there will be heavy traffic movement on these roads,” it added.
The traffic police also advised commuters to avoid Motilal Nehru Marg, Akbar Road, Janpath and Man Singh Road between 8 am and 12 pm.
Rahul Gandhi had appealed to party leaders and workers not to celebrate his birthday on Sunday. In a message to them, he had said Saturday night that the youngsters of the country were anguished and protesting on the streets and the Congress workers should stand with them. However, some leaders had put up hoardings in some places wishing him on his birthday. Gandhi, in a tweet, on Sunday thanked all who extended wishes to him on his birthday.