Congress stages protests as ED questions Sonia for 2 hours
The Congress held protests across the country on Thursday against the Enforcement Directorate (ED) grilling party president Sonia Gandhi in connection with a money laundering case. The probing agency questioned Gandhi for two hours. Gandhi's daughter and party's general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accompanied her to the ED office. Gandhi's interrogation had been postponed earlier as she tested positive for COVID-19, and was hospitalized.
- The high-profile case came to light in 2013 when BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a complaint before a trial court.
- He accused top Congress leaders of cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) by Young Indian (YI).
- The National Herald was a newspaper founded by Jawaharlal Nehru along with other freedom fighters in 1938.
As per reports, Congress leaders held several meetings on Wednesday to finalize plans for protests. On Thursday, as Gandhi left for the ED office at 11:00 am, AICC office bearers and members of frontal organizations accompanied her in a mark of solidarity. Party MPs also joined the rally after the parliament adjourns. Meanwhile, state units will also hold protests in state capitals.
"Tomorrow as the political vendetta unleashed by the Modi-Shah duo against our top leadership continues, the entire Congress party across the country will demonstrate its collective solidarity with Smt. Sonia Gandhi in a most telling manner," tweeted senior party leader Jairam Ramesh. The Congress had also held elaborate protests when Gandhi's son, the party's former chief Rahul Gandhi, was questioned by the agency.
Meanwhile, Congress MP Manickam Tagore filed a notice of adjournment in the Lok Sabha today, requesting a debate on the alleged abuse of the Enforcement Directorate and "targeting" of "innocent" opposition politicians. Tagore, in his notice to the Lok Sabha Secretary General, also requested a debate on a "list of scams" pending against the BJP government with the ED.
The Gandhis are accused of fraud and theft of funds in the purchase of a newspaper. They are accused of obtaining National Herald assets by purchasing the former publishers of the newspaper through YI, in which they had an 86% share. Notably, the Ministry of Finance is examining a tax evasion appeal in the case, which Congress claims was closed in 2015.
Swamy accused Gandhis and others of misappropriating funds by paying merely Rs. 50 lakh for the privilege to recover Rs. 90.25 crore owed to Congress through AJL. It was claimed that YI, which was founded in November 2010 with a capital of Rs. 50 lakh, had acquired nearly all of AJL's shares in the National Herald.