Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate to appear before it on Wednesday, the third day in a row, reported PTI.
Gandhi appeared before the agency in New Delhi on Tuesday for the second consecutive day for questioning in a money-laundering case related to the National Herald newspaper. The questioning continued past 10 pm.
Gandhi had reached the agency’s headquarters with his sister and Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. His questioning began at 11.30 am. Gandhi then took a break for about an hour around 3.30 pm rejoined the questioning around 4.30 pm.
Gandhi was questioned for about 10 hours on Monday amid protests by party members in the national capital and other parts of the country.
Ahead of his appearance on Tuesday, the Delhi Police imposed restrictions under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, prohibiting the gathering of four or more persons in the areas around the Congress headquarters, according to ANI.
Despite this, several Congress leaders, Vadra, held protests at the party headquarters in Delhi, PTI reported.
Several Congress leaders, including KC Venugopal, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and Randeep Surjewala, were detained.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot alleged that the Delhi Police was facing pressure from the Centre.
“No one can imagine the pressure from the government on Delhi Police,” Gehlot told ANI. “We can manage with Section 144, but you can’t stop us from coming into the AICC office. The situation in the country is very serious. People coming on roads on Ram Navami and Friday namaz.”
Earlier in the day, Surjewala said at a press conference that the Centre was taking action against Rahul Gandhi as he was the only leader who “looked the government in the eye” and said that politics of hate can never benefit the country. “We will neither be scared, nor bend, but will fight for the country,” he said.
On Monday, Gehlot and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel were among the several senior Congress leaders who were detained and taken to various police stations after they protested against the Enforcement Directorate in Delhi. They were released later in the day.
The party had alleged that senior leaders such as Chowdhury, Venugopal and P Chidambaram were injured after they were manhandled by the Delhi Police.
Surjewala had said that while Chidambaram suffered an injury in his left rib, party MP Pramod Tiwari suffered a rib fracture and a head injury after he was pushed on the street.
Chidambaram wrote on Twitter that his injury was a “suspected hairline crack”.
The Delhi Police denied allegations of manhandling and assault by officers on duty.
“Fifteen members of Lok Sabha, 11 members of Rajya Sabha and five MLAs of different state assemblies were among the 459 detained under Delhi Police Act for not following lawful directions of police,” Sagar Preet Hooda, special commissioner of police said, according to The Indian Express. “There were a few complaints at Tughlaq Road police station but no such incident [of manhandling] took place.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party accused the Congress of putting pressure on the Enforcement Directorate.
“Congress leaders have taken to the streets to pressurise an investigating agency openly because their corruption has been exposed,” Union Minister Smriti Irani said during a press conference on Monday. “It is an attempt to protect the assets of the Gandhi family.”
The Enforcement Directorate is investigating allegations that Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi conspired to misappropriate funds through the firm Young Indian Private Limited. The firm owns the National Herald newspaper.
In April 2008, the paper suspended operations as it had incurred a debt of over Rs 90 crore. Bharatiya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy has accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of setting up Young Indian Private Limited to buy the debt using the funds from the Congress.
Surjewala on Monday said that Young Indian is a not-for-profit company, and shares of National Herald were transferred to it, so that the debt of over Rs 90 crore could be repaid. He added that from this amount, Rs 67 crore were used for salaries and retirement funds of employees and the rest was used to pay utility bills and maintenance costs.