Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused the BJP-led government of political vendetta over the National Herald’s case in which he and his mother, party chief Sonia Gandhi, were summoned to make a personal appearance in court.
Gandhi, who was visiting rain-ravaged areas in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, reacted after the BJP hit out at the Congress for disrupting Parliament over the case.
“I absolutely see a political vendetta,” he said, hours after his mother hinted as much and told reporters that she left it “to you to judge”.
Commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman was quick to respond to the Congress chief’s comments. “Sonia Gandhiji’s is awfully wrong, media doesn’t decide as to who’s right or wrong.”
By calling it political vendetta, “are they (Congress) suggesting that the courts are now playing politics. What a shame!” she said.
Both parties traded barbs after Congress parliamentarians stalled Parliament and accused the government of targeting its top leaders through “proxy litigation”.
Congress spokesperson and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing Rahul in the case, insisted that the government was adopting a politics of revenge. “This is a political vendetta and worst, complainant Subramanian Swamy is a senior and active member of BJP. The ruling party in the power is using proxy litigations to attack the senior Congress functionaries out of political malice,” he said.
Parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu countered the allegation, saying it was “unfair and undemocratic of the Congress to disrupt Parliament on account of a case in court”.
Amid slogans of “tanashahi nahi chalegi (dictatorship will not be tolerated)” and “badle ke rajneeti nahi chalegi (politics of revenge)” in the Rajya Sabha, junior parliamentary affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi questioned if the Opposition has a problem with the government or court.
“If the case is related to the House, the government could answer. If it relates to courts, they should go to the court.”
His colleague Rajiv Pratap Rudy took a dig at the Congress MPs, wondering what had happened that shook the Congress members so much. “Nation wants to hear what their issue is. Nobody knows it. We are ready to hear. Let them go to their seats and raise it,” he said.
The Delhi high court on Monday dismissed the Gandhis’ plea to quash the trial court’s summons issued to them on allegations of illegally amassing property worth crores belonging to the defunct National Herald newspaper. But a trial court on Tuesday provided the Gandhis temporary relief, asking them to appear before it on December 19.
BJP leader Swamy, who filed the case, said the Gandhis are out of luck now as the Supreme Court won’t intervene in the trial.
The Congress had decided to move the top court but Swamy filed a caveat to pre-empt any ex-parte order on appeals likely to be filed by the Gandhis.
“If they want to try their luck in the Supreme Court, I think they have very little chance, because two courts have held that there is a prima facie case. So, the Supreme Court will not like to intervene with the trial process,” Swamy said.