New Delhi [India]: Protests by opposition parties including Congress on issues like price rise and action of investigative agencies forced adjournment of both the houses of parliament on Friday.
After the Rajya Sabha met for the day, opposition leaders began protesting an adjournment till 11.30 am. However, when the house met again similar scenes were repeated and the Rajya Sabha was adjourned till 2:30 pm. Meanwhile, similar scenes were witnessed in the Lok Sabha where Congress leaders led by Sonia Gandhi had dressed in black as a mark of protest. The Lok Sabha was also adjourned till 2 pm following an uproar. Prior to this adjournment, the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre (Amendment) Bill, 2022 were introduced in the Lok Sabha.
Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said members of the parliament (MPs) cannot avoid summons of law enforcement agencies in criminal cases whether the session is on or not.
This statement by the vice-president comes as Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and former West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee are among those under the radar of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in alleged money-laundering cases.
“MPs cannot avoid summons of law enforcement agencies in criminal cases when the session is on or otherwise. As law-abiding citizens, it’s our duty to respect the law and legal procedure,” said M Venkaiah Naidu in the upper house.
The Monsoon Session was convened on July 18 and will conclude on August 12.
Congress has been continuously raising questions against the price rise and the hike in the Goods and Service Tax (GST). Congress MPs have been staging protests both inside and outside Parliament on these issues. The protests come at a time when the Enforcement Directorate is questioning Congress president Sonia Gandhi and MP Rahul Gandhi over a case linked to the National Herald newspaper.
The Enforcement Directorate also arrested Sanjay Raut just after midnight of August 1 in a case linked to alleged financial irregularities in the redevelopment of a chawl. Also, last month, the Enforcement Directorate recovered over 50 crores in cash and unaccounted assets from premises linked to now-suspended TMC leader and West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee.
In one of the sharpest attacks on Rahul Gandhi by the ruling BJP at the Centre, Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Pralhad Joshi on Friday called the Congress leader a “fake Gandhi” whose ideology, he claimed, was “fake” as well.
Speaking to reporters at the Parliament premises, Joshi said, “He (Rahul Gandhi) is not a descendant of Mahatma Gandhi. He is a ‘nakli’ (fake) Gandhi. And it is a fake ideology.”
The BJP leader’s comments came after Rahul Gandhi hurled a litany of charges at the Modi government. The BJP has also claimed that Congress has become aggressive to divert attention from the probe against its top leaders by investigative agencies.
Earlier, at a press conference in the national capital, Rahul Gandhi said, “Why do they attack the Gandhi family? They do it because we fight for an ideology and there are crores of people like us. We fight for democracy, for communal harmony and we have been doing this for years. It’s not just me who did that, it has been happening for years.”
“My family sacrificed their lives. It’s our responsibility because we fight for this ideology. It hurts us when Hindus-Muslims are pitted against each other, when Dalits are killed, when a woman is thrashed. So, we fight. This isn’t just one family, this is an ideology,” said Rahul Gandhi.
Congress party leaders Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and MP Mallikarjun Kharge among others chose to sport black outfits to mark their support for the protests called by Congress on price rise and inflation.
While Rahul Gandhi chose to wear a black-coloured shirt while Priyanka Gandhi Vadra a black suit.
Comparing PM Modi with Hitler, Rahul Gandhi said, “Hitler had also won elections, he too used to win elections. How did he use to do it? He had control of all of Germany’s institutions…Give me the entire system, then I will show you how elections are won.”
Rahul Gandhi further said, “We’re witnessing the death of democracy. What India has built brick by brick, starting almost a century ago, is being destroyed in front of your eyes. Anybody who stands against this idea of the onset of dictatorship is viciously attacked, jailed, arrested and beaten up.”
Soon after Rahul Gandhi’s press conference, BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia said, “Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had got bail in 2015 in the National Herald case. This case was filed long back and they were not even raising such issues (that ED is being controlled) then. It’s just a tactic to divert attention from the fact that they have been caught red-handed. Bhatia’s comments came after Rahul Gandhi alleged that ED and other independent institutions were being controlled by the BJP and the RSS and used to intimidate the Opposition.”
The Congress today is protesting against rising prices, unemployment and GST rate hike. In Delhi, the party leaders are marching to the Rashtrapati Bhawan from the Parliament. The party’s state units will hold similar protests across the country.