The Congress on Tuesday alleged it was being targeted for speaking out against the Modi government after the ED conducted raids against the party-owned National Herald newspaper here but the BJP maintained the law would take its own course and accused the opposition party of trying to stall the probe.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided the head office of the National Herald newspaper here and 11 other locations as part of an ongoing money laundering investigation, officials said. The ED had earlier questioned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and her son and party leader Rahul Gandhi in the case.
Reacting sharply, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, ”The raids on Herald House, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg are a part of the continued attack against India’s principal opposition — Indian National Congress.” ”We strongly condemn this vendetta politics against those who speak up against the Modi Govt. You cannot silence us!” he said.
Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur alleged that the Congress was “trying to stall investigation” in the case by staging protests against the ED action. He claimed that the opposition party was acting as a ”slave” of the Gandhi family, which was instigating Congress workers to protest to ”hide its corruption”.
”Are Congress leaders above any probe? Does the law of the land not apply to Congress leaders? Is the Gandhi family above every law,” Thakur told reporters here as Congress workers staged protests against the ED action.
“And now to hide their own acts of corruption, they were encouraging Congress workers to stall the investigation,” Thakur said.
Thakur also accused the Congress of being “stuck in the slavery of one family” and ignoring the interests of the people.
Reacting to Ramesh’s allegation, BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla asked if the denial of any relief to the Gandhi family by courts in this matter was also ”vendetta”.
BJP general secretary C T Ravi also responded to Ramesh’s charge, saying there is nothing ”Indian nor National about the INC”.
He alleged that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are ”corrupt” and are facing action from the ED for the only reason that ”they looted the Congress” in the National Herald case.
”Slaves can call it vendetta, but the law will take its own course,” Ravi said.
The searches were carried out under the criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) to ”gather additional evidence with regard to the trail of funds and they are against those entities who were involved in the National Herald-linked transactions”, the officials said.
Senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge said ”this is a politics of vendetta” and alleged that they want to suppress the voice of Congress and create an atmosphere of fear to demoralise party workers.
The BJP government is mainly targeting the Congress, Kharge said, adding that they want to ”completely demolish the Opposition and non-BJP leaders are being arrested.” Not a single BJP leader has been arrested or raided so far by probe agencies, he alleged.
”’The BJP’s interest is that they want to kill democracy and are destroying many state governments by purchasing the MLAs,” he said, adding ”this is very bad for the democracy”.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the raid on Herald House by ED shows that the central government is rattled and is a face-saving exercise.
”After torturing Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Mr Rahul Gandhi in the name of interrogation, the ED is now taking such action for face-saving,” he said in a tweet.
Gehlot claimed the ED had closed the case in July 2015, but the central government transferred the investigating officer of that time.
It ”put pressure on the new officers and initiated action with a vendetta in mind”, the Congress leader alleged, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the raids on National Herald are a ploy to divert attention from price rise and unemployment and the party will not be cowed down by such actions.
She said whosoever speaks against the BJP and exposes the government’s ”failures”, will face raids either by the ED or CBI or the income tax department.
”To settle petty personal scores, to intimidate India’s opposition, the Modi government is doing exactly what the British did during the freedom struggle. During the freedom struggle, the British had banned and had raided National Herald, that’s exactly what the Modi government is doing,” she said.
”The ED has actually become the Election Department of the BJP and that seems to be exactly what the ED has reduced itself to,” she alleged.
Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, who is also facing the ED heat, alleged that the agency has become a ”weapon of mass destruction” and would be known as the ”hatchet agency”.
Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal were also questioned by the ED in April in the National Herald case. Both leaders went to the Herald office this evening, where the party workers staged a strong protest against the action.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)