Modi govt 'misusing' probe agencies Cong on ED questioning of Sonia Gandhi

    New Delhi, Jul 21 (PTI) The Congress on Thursday slammed the government for "treating the opposition as its enemies" and "misusing" probe agencies against its leaders as the party staged protests against the Enforcement Directorate's questioning of Sonia Gandhi.
    Senior Congress leaders, including some MPs, courted arrest outside the party headquarters here to protest the ED action. Congressmen staged protests across the country at all state headquarters, with the police using water canon against protesting Punjab Congress workers in Chandigarh and a miscreant burnt down a car outside ED office in Bengaluru. The party also said the protests will continue at district headquarters all over the country on Friday.
    Leaders of various political parties, including the DMK, CPI-M, CPI, NC, TRS, MDMK, NCP and Shiv Sena, in a joint statement condemned the ED action against Sonia Gandhi and alleged that the government was unleashing a relentless campaign against its political opponents through "mischievous" misuse of probe agencies.
    Senior Congress leader and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the probe agency should first hold a press conference to spell out under what charges Sonia Gandhi is being probed.
     "I condemn the ED action of calling Sonia Gandhi for questioning," he told reporters at a press conference.
     "The ED should have gone to her residence to take her responses to their questions," he said, citing past precedents, adding that this is being done to "harass" her.
    Sonia Gandhi appeared before the ED here for questioning in the National Herald money laundering case.
    "All Congress MPs and CWC members have courted mass arrest outside our party headquarters in a show of collective solidarity with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, a target of 'Vishguru's' political vendetta. We are being taken away to a police station in Old Delhi evidently," said Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh.
    Another party leader P Chidambaram said the ED is not higher than the Supreme Court.
    "What is that the ED wants to 'investigate' that will not be examined by the SC," he asked.
    "The ED is overreaching the SC and trying to intimidate the Congress party. The Congress party will not bow down to the intimidation," Chidambaram alleged.
    Congress leader Pawan Khera also alleged that whenever the government feels cornered, it brings in its agencies.
    "The conspiracy is to silence us and the aim is to make the country opposition-free," he alleged.
    Congress' social media head Supriya Shrinate shared an undated video of Sonia Gandhi in which the Congress president is saying, "I am Indira ji's daughter-in-law and am not afraid of anyone".
    Party MP Shashi Tharoor, also shared his picture of being taken away by the police in a bus from the Congress headquarters while holding a picture of Sonia Gandhi.
    "Democracy and Truth always go together. Solidarity with all my Congress colleagues in detention," he said on Twitter.
    Referring to the questioning of Rahul Gandhi earlier in the case, Gehlot said never has anyone questioned a leader for five days in a row and long hours of questioning.
    "Their aim is to demoralise and create problems," he alleged.
    "They are treating opposition leaders as if they are their enemies," he also alleged.
    Gehlot said this action comes after the Udaipur declaration of the Congress party, which received a very encouraging response from the public.
     Earlier in the day, Ramesh had claimed that the media was also being prevented from entering the party headquarters.
     "From the early hours of this morning the Delhi Police - obviously taking orders from the Union Home Minister - is preventing the media from entering the Congress party headquarters. This high-handedness was only to be expected and reflects the mindset of the Modi Sarkar," Ramesh said on Twitter.
      He also said that the ED action comes to prevent the Congress raising issues of public like price rise and unemployment, which they will continue.
    The Congress has organised protests in the national capital and across the country.
    Gehlot alleged that there are two laws in India, with one for the BJP and one for the opposition.
    He also alleged that the area around the Congress headquarters here has been turned into a cantonment and no one is being allowed entry.
    "They consider the opposition as their enemies and the target is to make the country opposition-free. Earlier their slogan was to make it 'Congress-mukt'," he said, alleging that the country is headed towards such times that all Indians should be worried.
    Gehlot also claimed that the ED is being used by the ruling BJP as a "big weapon to bring down governments of opposition" parties.
     "There can't be anything more cheap and shameful than this," he said.
    He said the ED has carried out 1,700 raids and their conviction rate is 0.5 percent as due processes is not followed.
    The Rajasthan chief minister said he wanted to meet the heads of the IT, CBI, ED and CBDT chairman as the credibility of these probe agencies in the eyes of the public is going down. PTI SKC ZMN

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)