Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that he was not bothered by the investigation of the Enforcement Directorate in a money-laundering case related to the National Herald newspaper, The Indian Express reported.
“Enforcement Directorate and such agencies do not affect me,” Gandhi said. “Even the officers who interrogated me understood that a leader of the Congress party cannot be scared or suppressed.”
Gandhi made the remarks during an interaction with Congress workers at the party’s headquarters in Delhi.
The Enforcement Directorate began questioning Gandhi in the National Herald case on June 13. He has been interrogated for more than 50 hours in five days by the agency.
The agency is investigating allegations that Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi 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 of the Congress.
Since Gandhi’s questioning began, Congress members have been staging protests across the country. The party alleges that Gandhi has been summoned in the case as he is the “most vociferous and credible voice against the Bhartiya Janata Party”.
On Wednesday, Gandhi thanked the Congress workers for their support, saying he was not alone.
“Rahul Gandhi was not sitting in that room alone,” he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “Each and every Congress leader was there with me. One leader can become tired, but not the several thousand workers of the party.”
‘Centre weakening Army’
During his address, Gandhi also targeted the Centre on its Agnipath scheme, which provides for short-term recruitment into the armed forces. The scheme was announced on June 14.
“They [BJP] used to talk of ‘one rank, one pension’, now they have come up with ‘no rank, no pension’,” Gandhi said, according to ANI. “The young will toil hard and will go back to their homes. Once they retire, they will not get any employment.”
The Congress MP also alleged that the new recruitment scheme would weaken the Army.
“PM Modi will have to roll back the Agnipath scheme,” Gandhi said. “The young in India are aware that true patriotism is required to strengthen the nation. We [Congress] will make sure the scheme is repealed.”
Under the Agnipath scheme, citizens aged between 17-and-a-half and 21 years will be eligible to apply. Of these recruits, 25% will be eligible to apply as regular personnel after they complete their four-year service.
Since June 15, violent protests have taken place in several states against the new military recruitment plan. At many places, agitators burnt and vandalised railway property, blocked train tracks and clashed with officials. In Bihar alone, 60 train coaches have been burnt and property worth about Rs 700 crore has been damaged.
The protestors are demanding permanent recruitment under the regular process as well as pension and other retirement benefits that are not a part of the Agnipath scheme.
In a bid to contain the outrage, the Union government has increased the age limit for recruitment in the armed forces under the scheme to 23 years for this year. It has also announced a 10% reservation for Agnipath recruits in the jobs offered by the home and defence ministries.