A day before former Congress president Rahul Gandhi appears before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in a money laundering case, the Congress on Sunday held press conferences in multiple cities to allege political vendetta by the BJP.
On Monday, senior leaders, including the Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled States, are expected to march to the ED office when Mr. Gandhi appears to record his statement in the National Herald case.
The State units will also do satyagraha in front of the ED offices in their respective States.
The case to investigate alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Private Ltd that owns National Herald, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) was registered about nine months ago. This came after a trial court took cognisance of an Income Tax Department probe against Young Indian Ltd. on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013. Mr. Gandhi and his mother and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi are shareholders of Young Indian, a not-for-profit company.
“I speak as a Congress member and an advocate. The ED’s summons to Mr. Rahul Gandhi under PMLA is baseless,” former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram told PTI.
Mr. Chidambaram said the offence of money laundering required “money” and “laundering of money” whereas in the National Herald, there was debt-to-equity conversion, something which lending banks do on a regular basis. “It is like accusing a person of the offence of ‘purse snatching’ when there was no purse and no snatching,” he argued.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel, who will participate in the march to the ED office, told reporters in Raipur that the National Herald case was being used to harass the Gandhi family. “The Central government wants to misuse the ED, CBI, Income Tax department to silence the Opposition. We will oppose this,” Mr. Baghel said.
Addressing a press conference in Lucknow, senior leader Sachin Pilot questioned why the Central agencies never ever investigated any BJP leader. “These agencies work only to provide political benefit to the BJP. Is it possible that in the entire country, no BJP leader has ever done anything that calls for a raid or investigation? And whenever someone joins the BJP, all his deeds are forgiven by sprinkling Ganga jal,” he said.
Other senior leaders such Pawan Khera in Ahmedabad, Vivek Tankha in Raipur, Sanjay Nirupam in Shimla addressed a press conference.