Jairam says Kharge was supposed to hold Oppn dinner for Margaret Alva, ED grilling ends

Updated on Aug 04, 2022 09:13 PM IST

On Thursday, Congress veteran and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge said that the ED summoned him at 12.30pm amid the ongoing proceedings of the Parliament monsoon session.

Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge (R) leaves the National Herald building after he was questioned by the ED, on Thursday, August 4, 2022. (ANI Photo)
Congress MP and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge (R) leaves the National Herald building after he was questioned by the ED, on Thursday, August 4, 2022. (ANI Photo)
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Sohini Goswami

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday interrogated Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge for more than six hours in the National Herald money laundering case. Congress MP Jairam Ramesh said Kharge was supposed to host a dinner for opposition candidate for vice presidential polls Margaret Alva at 7.30 in the evening but he is “still with (the) ED”. Kharge was seen leaving the National Herald building a little later.

“This is height of political vendetta by Modi Sarkar!” Ramesh tweeted.

Calling the ED summon a tactic to divert attention from the Congress party's mega protest scheduled tomorrow across India against inflation, unemployment and GST price rate hike, Ramesh said that it is a “pure harassment”.

“Those who believe in politics of threat are scared. And Modi Sarkar is scared of inflation, unemployment, GST. There is anger among citizens and in households, and with the aim to divert attention from this, the government is using the ED weapon. We said at Parliament today, Modi Sarkar has two brothers - ED and CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation),” Ramesh told news agency ANI.

Ramesh took to Twitter hours ago to state that Kharge's “ordeal is continuing” even after four and a half hours, and that the entire Congress party “stands with him in solidarity”.

Earlier in the day, Kharge said in Parliament that he had been summoned by the federal agency amid the ongoing monsoon session and accused the BJP-led Central government of attempting to intimidate the grand old party. The Congress veteran spoke about his summons during the Question Hour of the Rajya Sabha.

He said the ED summoned him at 12.30pm in the midst of the monsoon proceedings. “I want to abide by law, but is it right for them to summon me when Parliament is in session? Is it right for police to gherao residences of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi? They are doing it purposely to scare us (Congress). We won't be scared, we'll fight,” the Leader of Opposition added.

Kharge's accusation triggered a war of words between him and Union minister and Leader of House in the Rajya Sabha Piyush Goyal who said the Centre had nothing to do with the work of the ED.

“The government does not interfere in the work of the law enforcement authorities. Perhaps during their tenure, when their government was there, they might have interfered,” Goyal said.

Congress leader KC Venugopal and RJD's Tejashwi Yadav also slammed the central government after ED issued summons to Kharge.

Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day amid uproar over “misuse” of powers of federal agencies.

Congress leader and former president Rahul Gandhi also lashed out at the BJP-led central government over its “pressure tactics” to intimidate and silence the opposition camp using central agencies. He said that they are not “afraid of Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

His comments came a day after the ED sealed the Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI)’s office at Herald House in New Delhi. The move was part of the central agency's ongoing investigation into the money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper.

The ED has already questioned Rahul and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi multiple times in June and July, respectively, in relation to the case.

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