Political witch-hunt, says Congress

BJP dismisses protest; Janata Dal (U), Trinamool Congress express support for Sonia, Rahul.

December 20, 2015 12:17 am | Updated November 17, 2021 05:02 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Priyanka Vadra along with Congress leaders arrives at the Patiala House Court in New Delhi on Saturday.

Priyanka Vadra along with Congress leaders arrives at the Patiala House Court in New Delhi on Saturday.

It was the political passion play of the year, with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi appearing before a magistrate’s court in Delhi in the National Herald case. Their appearance in court lasted barely five minutes but the play-out during the whole day has important portends for the country’s politics in the next year.

The Congress, which managed to mobilise its workers and leaders, looked united and emphatically made the point that while the legal aspects of the National Herald case would be fought in the courts, there would be a parallel political battle on the question of political vendetta. “I appeared before the court with a clear heart and as a law abiding citizen,” said Ms.Gandhi. “I want to say, however, that the present government is targeting the Opposition and making full use of state agencies to do so”. A statement echoed by Rahul Gandhi, who blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the case rather than the petitioner, Subramanian Swamy.

The aim clearly was to make common cause with other Opposition parties against the BJP, and it found some purchase among other parties.

As it happened: >Sonia, Rahul granted bail

“We fully support whatever Ms. Gandhi said today, this government has a vindictive attitude and the bitterness of the campaign in Bihar is a prime example,” said Janata Dal (U) MP, K.C.Tyagi. The Trinamool Congress too has been supportive of the Congress in stalling Parliament last week on the issue of Arunachal Pradesh. The next date of the hearing is February 20, 2016, and that the Gandhis have not been exempted from appearing in court on that day does not bode well for the Budget Session of Parliament either.

The BJP, therefore, worked hard to keep the focus on corruption and the National Herald case and maintain some modicum of distance between the government and the case. “They made it sound like they were not accused in a case but are freedom fighters,” said Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

Calling the National Herald case a scam, Mr.Naqvi said, “The National Herald scam has reached the top of your leadership, what does the BJP or the government have to do with it?” He said the summonses (in response to which the Gandhis appeared in court) were issued by the court and the government had nothing to do with it.

“We appeal to the country. People should judge whether an accused should appear in court or protest on the street,” he said.

Bungalow row Reacting to allegations that the BJP-led government had rewarded the complainant in the case, Dr.Swamy, with a government house, Mr.Naqvi countered, “Who gave Robert Vadra a government bungalow? Is Robert Vadra an MP? Congress should realise that dozens of people get government accommodation because of security reasons. This included Priyanka Gandhi, who was member of neither House of Parliament”.

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