Congress counts silver linings of ED protests
Congress counts silver linings of ED protests
New Delhi: It may not be the best comparison but there were many silver linings for the Congress to count on Wednesday when the grand old party staged a show of strength against the “hounding” of its high command in the alleged National Herald money laundering case.
If the mood of the leaders and lawmakers, who had been asked to converge at the party’s national headquarters, 24 Akbar Road, and their speeches, were an indicator, there were three clear takeaways from the mega conclave. First, the centrality of the Gandhi family in the Congress system came to the fore. Second, the leaders appeared charged up to convey a message to the Centre that “you have hammered us enough but we remain as strong”.
The third benefit was that the gathering provided a rare, mutual opportunity to both Rahul and the lawmakers from across the country, to have interaction, at a time when the Congress is trying to don a new look. “We want to assure you Sonia ji and Rahul Ji, we are all solidly behind you and the Congress party,” the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said, referring to ED’s questioning of Rahul Gandhi for over 50 hours across five days recently.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who was scheduled to appear before the probe agency on June 23, has sought an extension for a few weeks citing health grounds. “I too have faced the ED in this case. They just keep asking the same questions many times over,” said Kharge, adding the “BJP is afraid of the Congress party and our leader Rahul Gandhi as he alone takes up people’s issues and asks tough questions from the government.”
Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel noted how Rahul had earlier warned the Centre over demonetization, GST, farm laws and handling of Covid but the government did not listen to him. Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary said the BJP was trying to project the Gandhi family as “corrupt” but forgot the role played by the family members in nation-building.
“Jawaharlal Nehru ji was prime minister for 17 years. Former prime minister Indira Gandhi was known as a strong leader and sacrificed her life for the country. Her son and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi too sacrificed his life for the nation. Our leader Sonia Gandhi ji declined the post of prime minister in 2004 when all of us wanted her to take up that office. Would such a family indulge in a scam of Rs 90 crore as is being alleged in the National Herald case? Do Rs 90 crore matter to them?” said Chaudhary.
The anger of party leaders, accumulated over the ED’s questioning of Rahul and police action against party workers, including women, spilled over at the gathering. “PM Modi and home minister Amit Shah thought they would be able to harass Rahul Gandhi but he will not be harassed. We will walk along with him and give our sweat and blood to take the Congress party ahead,” said Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot said, “Rahul has seen the sacrifices of his grandmother and his father as a child. Now he is being targeted by the Centre through the ED. I know the officials are just doing what they have been told to do as they are duty-bound. I have been seeking an appointment with the ED director to tell him how the agency is being viewed by the common people due to such actions.” Slamming the Centre for the police atrocities against party leaders over the past week, Gehlot said the BJP, which is in opposition in Rajasthan, also staged protests. “Should the BJP office also be sealed? Would that be good for democracy? They are setting wrong precedents,” the CM said.
New Congress communications in-charge Jairam Ramesh was more pointed. “The ED action against our leaders is taking place as our organization has decided to challenge the BJP by taking out a nationwide Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kashmir to Kanyakumari from October 2. We want Bharat Jodo. They want Rahul Todo, Sonia Todo,” said Ramesh. “This is like pursuing a politics of revenge,” he said.
Finally, the party conclave provided a rare opportunity for both Rahul, as well as the lawmakers, who interacted with the MLAs state-wise along with the respective AICC state in charge. The interaction, coming at a time when the Congress is trying to don a new look, was welcomed by one and all. “I thank you all for reaching Delhi at such short notice,” AICC general secretary in charge of Organization KC Venugopal told the party MLAs.
“Though there were several leaders at the Udaipur Chintan Shivir, such an interaction with the lawmakers did not happen. This opportunity brought the leadership and the lawmakers, who are aware of the ground-level situation, closer,” said AICC in-charge of Delhi Shakti Sinh Gohil.