New Delhi: Senior congress member Sonia Gandhi was on Thursday questioned for nearly three hours by the Enforcement Directorate before the probe agency in an alleged money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper.
Sonia Gandhi is likely to be called for another round of questioning in the next couple of days, NDTV reported quoting officials.
Gandhi was questioned keeping in mind COVID protocol with everyone participating equipped with a COVID negative certificate, they added, as the Congress head earlier tested positive for the virus.
Gandhi’s questioning was carried out by five officers led by a woman Additional Director, NDTV reported quoting further sources. The probe agency prepared 50 questions for the Congress chief.
Sonia Gandhi arrived at the probe agency’s headquarters in central Delhi a little after noon. She was accompanied by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Vadra was allowed to stay in the ‘building, away from the questioning room, so that in case of a health issue she can be with her mother and provide her medicines, officials were quoted as saying.
The party has slammed the agency’s action and called it a “political vendetta”. Several Congress leaders were detained as the party held nationwide demonstrations in support of the party chief.
Carrying large banners saying “stop misuse of ED”, Congress leaders today held a march inside the Parliament complex in a show of strength against the Enforcement Directorate.
Large number of demonstrations are also being held across the country. In some places, protesters stopped trains, and even burnt vehicles, NDTV reported quoting reports.
“Prime Minister forgets that his idea of Congress is based on leaders they have taken from us. They have to reborn several times to understand what Congress party is, what Gandhi family is,” the party said in a press conference called this morning.
“We are protesting the ED summons to Mrs Sonia Gandhi. The AJL-Young India transaction is recorded in the books of account, the returns filed by the two companies and in the Income Tax returns. All that the ED wants to know can be found in the records,” tweeted Congress leader P Chidambaram, who was detained during protests in Delhi.
The BJP criticised the Congress’ protests as its “duragrah” (obstinate demand) for protecting the Gandhi family. “The Congress has become a pocket organisation of a family, and now its assets are also being pocketed by the family,” BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad alleged, attacking the Gandhis.
Earlier today, a meeting chaired by the Congress to discuss “relentless political vendetta” by the GoI was attended by almost 13 opposition parties.
A statement released by like-minded opposition parties has condemned the BJP-led GoI’s “misuse” of investigating agencies. Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP has also given a zero-hour notice over “misuse of central investigation agencies by the ruling government”.
The Congress chief appeared after the third summon. She sought exemption on earlier dates of June 8 and June 23 after she contracted coronavirus infection.
The ED has been investigating the role of the Gandhis in the case which involves the Young Indian’s takeover of AJL (Associated Journals Limited), the company which ran the National Herald newspaper.