Q: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was questioned by ED for five days and then party chairwoman Sonia Gandhi was questioned for three days. This was followed by the closure of the Young Indians office at Herald House on Bahadurshah Zafar Marg in Delhi. Opposition Leader in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge he was also summoned and questioned by ED on August 4 for seven hours at a time when the monsoon parliament session is in progress. What do you have to say about the whole episode?
ED has become an instrument of the Modi government. It is no longer a professional and autonomous institution. It has become an instrument of political vendetta. It is very dangerous for our democracy. Modi is using the combination of three agencies (ED, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Income Tax (IT)) to settle political scores with his opponents, threaten state governments and intimidate opposition political leaders. Clearly, with a conviction rate of less than 0.5 percent, ED has become an instrument of Modi’s IDF, where IDF stands for fear, deception, and intimidation. This is the real FDI.
This is done to divert people’s attention from day-to-day subsistence issues: the prices of basic goods, vegetables, edible oil, wheat, rising unemployment, and the senseless taxation of GST on food. essential.
To divert people’s attention, Mr. Modi is not only the master of deception, but he is also a double weapon of mass destruction: both a weapon of mass deception and a weapon of mass distraction.
Q. How does Congress plan to counter the ED’s actions against its leaders?
We had a massive national protest on Friday (Aug 5). We tried to march to the Prime Minister’s residence from 24, Akbar Road (Congress venue) and we also tried to march to Rashtrapati Bhavan from Parliament, but we were stopped and sent to Kingsway Camp Police Station. They released us after six hours. We also had massive protests in different states. These protests were exclusively to highlight prices, unemployment, the GST (goods and services tax) and the Agnipath (short-term recruitment plan in the armed forces). These are all real problems.
To ensure that public attention is not focused on these issues, Mr. Modi has unleashed ED. He destabilized the Maharashtra government. He himself is now involved in Operation Lotus in Jharkhand. He attempted Operation Lotus in Rajasthan but failed. He says that he is Amrit Kaal. But from the point of view of the people, he is vinaash kaal.
Speaker of Congress Sonia Gandhi, former President Rahul Gandhi and other black-clad party MPs march from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of the party’s nationwide protest over price gouging, unemployment and GST hikes on items essentials, in New Delhi on August 5. Twitter/ @ INCIndia
Q. The leaders of the BJP have said that the leaders of the Congress and the workers took to the streets only when the DE summoned Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi in the Case of the National Herald. Otherwise, they don’t go out into the streets to raise people’s problems, such as price increases and the like.
We first took to the streets in January 2015 and forced Mr. Modi to reverse the amendments to the Land Acquisition Law. That was due to the Congress Party protests in UP, Haryana and in other states. That is an example of the massive protests we have done. We held price gouging rallies several times in different states. This is not the first time we have held a massive protest. We have done it in the past. We have highlighted issues that we have not been able to do in Parliament. We have done it outside.
Yes, there was a powerful expression of collective solidarity when Rahul Gandhi and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi were called in for questioning. That’s because this was a case of political vendetta. There is no money or laundering. Where is the issue of money laundering?
The biggest washing machine today is the BJP. Today it is a giant washing machine: launderette. Look at all these people who have joined the BJP. When they are outside the BJP, they are corrupted and threatened. They enter the BJP laundry and become clean and good managers. They are rewarded as Chief Ministers and become Union Cabinet Ministers. This is double standards.
Q: Why is Congress losing everywhere? For example, he lost 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections and a series of elections to the assembly. Congress shrinks and 2024 is not far away.
Was this question asked of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh when it kept losing elections from 1952 onwards? Victory and defeat are part of the political cycle. Yes, we have lost. We have lost nationally and we have lost in certain states. But we also come to power. Our government in Madhya Pradesh was destabilized. The main destabilizer is now in the cabinet of the Union. Then we were not allowed to form a government in Manipur, where we were the largest party. We were the biggest party in Goa, but we were not allowed to form a government.
We have lost elections. There are diseases and organizational weaknesses. There is no doubt about it. But in 2004, we had been without power for eight years and the people had canceled Congress. But what happened in 2004? Then again in 2009? Well, we haven’t been in power since 2014.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Jairam Ramesh, Shashi Tharoor, Pramod Tiwari, Digvijaya Singh and others detained in police lines at Kingsway Camp during their agitation against price gouging, unemployment and GST in Delhi on August 5. Photo: Twitter/ @INCIndia
Q: What hope do you have that Congress will return to power in 2024?
We fight, we argue. There is more to politics than just coming to power. We are not an NGO. We are not mathematicians. We are a political party. Political parties exist to contest elections and we participate in elections to win. But when we lose, it doesn’t mean the end of the world. This fight we are in with the BJP is not an electoral fight. It is an ideological struggle.
Now, in particular, I would say that our fight against (former Prime Minister) Mr. (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee was an electoral fight. Because Mr. Vajpayee embodied the politics of the Nehruvian era. But since 2014 we are in an ideological confrontation. All said and done, Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. (LK) Advani were products of the Nehruvian era. So, they were forced to absorb some of the values and principles of that time. But since 2014, all the battle lines have changed.
Q: So do you think if Mr. Vajpayee had been in power, ED wouldn’t have happened?
I do not believe that Mr. Vajpayee practiced the politics of revenge. He got Smt Sonia Gandhi to address the UN General Assembly (United Nations) on June 23, 2001 in a special session on HIV and AIDS. She spoke on behalf of the Government of India. Vajpayee was the prime minister. Mr. Vajpayee was sent to the UN in 1993. So the politics is over. It’s a completely different ball game. We are dealing with people with killer instinct. You know what I want to say. I don’t have to give more details.
Q: PM Narendra Modi accuses Congress of being a parivarwad party. The BJP leaders allege that the Congress leaders are behaving like slaves to a family. what do you have to say about it?
Speaking of ED, intimidation, price gouging and unemployment, 16 opposition parties and two independent MPs have signed a joint statement deploring the Supreme Court ruling on amendments to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). ) between 2014 and 2018.
By the way. I was the petitioner who went to the High Court in 2019 to ask that if this was a money bill, the amendments came through the finance bill and as a member of the Rajya Sabha I was denied the opportunity to have a meaningful debate and discussion about the bill. The Supreme Court has referred that part of the petition to a larger court. Now, tomorrow, if the Supreme Court said this is not a money bill, which it is not, does that mean all of these amendments will be struck down?
I don’t want to say anything about why the sentence took the form it did. There are many speculations about it. But the fact is that 16 opposition parties and two independent Rajya Sabha MPs have deplored its consequences for our democracy and have called for a review of that ruling because it gives unbridled powers to the ED which is dangerous for our democracy. No checks, no balances. That is the crux of the matter.
It is being argued that the Congress Party and Mr. P Chidambaram were responsible for these amendments. No. These amendments have been made and have been upheld by the Supreme Court. PMLA was first approved in 2002 when Mr. Yashwant Sinha was the Minister of Finance. It became an act, but we had to comply with international obligations under the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) which has blacklisted Pakistan.
In order to fulfill our obligations under the FATF, this was notified when Mr. Chidambaram was the Minister of Finance. Therefore, it is unfair to blame Mr. Yashwant Sinha and Mr. Chidambaram. The Supreme Court has cited chapters and verses from them. It is very unfair and selective. The crux of the amendments giving the ED draconian powers was made between 2014 and 2018 through the back door of the money bill that I petitioned the Supreme Court for which the ruling referred that issue to a larger bank.
Q: Are you filing a petition for review?
The implication of the opposition parties’ joint statement is yes, we will request a review. One of the signatories of the declaration is Mr. Kapil Sibal. That should tell you something.
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