New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who was questioned for over 10 hours by the Enforcement Directorate in a money-laundering probe linked to the National Herald newspaper, will appear before it again on Tuesday. Rahul Gandhi appeared before the central probe agency for the first time for questioning on Monday, accompanied by a battery of leaders including sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and escorted by armed CRPF personnel. He was given an 80-minute break in the afternoon.
He left the ED office around 11.10 pm after questioning.
Hundreds of Congress workers in Delhi and state capitals took to the streets and several senior leaders, including Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, Randeep Surjewala and K C Venugopal, were detained here amid a massive show of strength by the party which had called for the Satyagraha march against the ED summons.
The top leaders of the party were released from police detention around 11.30 pm soon after Rahul Gandhi left the Enforcement Directorate office.
The principal opposition party alleged that the Delhi police made a “murderous attack” on its leader Venugopal and others, with former home minister P Chidambaram and Pramod Tiwari sustaining hairline rib fractures.
The Delhi Police said while no incident of injuries due to the use of force by police has come to its knowledge, it will diligently probe any such complaint and take appropriate action. It said 459 people were detained, including 26 MPs and five MLAs, and all women and functionaries have been released.
Lashing out at the government for “not allowing”‘ peaceful protest, Congress leaders said they would not kowtow to the Modi government and vowed to continue their agitation.
Congress leader Harish Rawat said that the party will continue this fight. “We will continue this fight. The struggle of the Congress party will continue until they (Central government) try to suppress the voice of Rahul Gandhi and our party,” Rawat told reporters.
Meanwhile, the ruling BJP hit back at the Congress, accusing its leaders of putting pressure on the ED, supporting corruption and protecting the alleged assets worth Rs 2,000 crore of the Gandhi family.
Noting that nobody is above the law “not even Rahul Gandhi”, BJP leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani claimed that never before such a blatant attempt was made by a political family to hold a probe agency to ransom to protect its “ill-gotten” assets.
Gandhi, 51, went from the party headquarters on Akbar Road to the ED office in central Delhi, a few kilometres away, in a convoy of seven cars after walking for some distance with his supporters.
After about two-and-a-half hours, he left the ED office for a lunch break during which he met his mother Sonia Gandhi at the Ganga Ram Hospital, where she has been admitted, and returned at 3.30 pm.
The former Congress president, a Z+ category protectee of the CRPF after the Union government withdrew the Gandhi family’s SPG cover in 2019, is expected to write down his statement, official sources said.
Prohibitory orders were imposed in parts of central Delhi that were heavily barricaded. The ED is recording the statement of the Lok Sabha member from Wayanad in Kerala under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The probe is related to alleged financial irregularities in the party-promoted Young Indian that owns the National Herald newspaper, published by the Associated Journals Limited (AJL).
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are among the promoters and shareholders of Young Indian. Rahul Gandhi is supposed to have been grilled about the incorporation of the Young Indian company, the operations of the National Herald and the fund transfer within the news media establishment.
In a statement, the Delhi Police said that 15 members of Lok Sabha, including Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, 11 Rajya Sabha MPs, including KC Venugopal and Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge, five MLAs of different states and other functionaries were among the 459 detained in the New Delhi district for not following lawful directions of police for maintenance of law and order. All woman workers and functionaries detained by police have been released, it said.
(Will Agency Inputs)