The dramatic scenes, in which the Delhi Police squared off with Congress leaders, saw former Union minister P Chidambaram and Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Tiwari claiming that they walked away with broken spectacles and suspected fractured ribs.
Chidambaram tweeted: “When three big, burly policemen crash into you, you are lucky to get away with a suspected hairline crack! Doctors have said that if there is a hairline crack, it will heal by itself in about 10 days. I am fine and I will go about my work tomorrow.”
Police physically removed AICC general secretary organisation KC Venugopal from the site of protest even as the party alleged that MP Shakti Sinh Gohil was cane-charged. Over two dozen leaders, including Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh chief ministers Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, were detained for several hours for defying Delhi Police’s prohibitory orders. The senior Congress leaders and MPs were in police station till late Monday night.
Venugopal, Gohil and Lok Sabha MPs Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Dean Kuriakose, Anto Antony and DK Suresh were among those released shortly before midnight.
The blistering sun notwithstanding, Congress leaders gathered in large numbers at the AICC headquarters from 9 am onwards and raised slogans in solidarity with Rahul. At a press conference ahead of Rahul’s appearance before ED, Congress attempted to turn the ED summons into a battle of ideologies between the Right-wing and the grand old party.
Congress fielded Mallikarjun Kharge, Gehlot, Baghel and Randeep Surjewala to assert that there was no wrongdoing or pecuniary benefits to Sonia Gandhi or Rahul in the case.
Accusing the Modi government of “vendetta politics”, the party said it will not be cowered by the “hounding” of the Gandhis by the agencies. In a show of strength, Rahul marched a short distance from the AICC headquarters with sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on his side before being driven to the ED office.
Even as Rahul was questioned for 11 hours, police said over 450 party workers were held in detention for violation of prohibitory oders.
Gehlot later said Congress will cooperate with any investigation that is needed, but added that the officers leading India’s investigative agencies must “introspect” and be guided by their “conscience” while acting against opposition leaders.
“The National Herald case is sub judice. Despite that, the ED was asked to get involved and issue notices. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul ji could not have taken a single rupee from AJL because this is a non-profit company. The PM and HM know this as do the investigating agencies,” he said, adding a warning that the nation is watching and that such “misuse” of agencies would eventually come back to hound the incumbent government and its masters.
Congress also accused the Modi government of provoking and dividing people in the name of religion, adding that appeals by 13 opposition leaders for PM Narendra Modi to condemn violence in the name of religion had fallen on deaf ears.