After taking a break for four days, Rahul Gandhi once again appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials. It was thought that at last, the Congress workers would stop their uproar, but that wasn’t to be. The ruckus that was created during the first phase (June 13 to 15) of questioning of Rahul Gandhi was repeated again. The party workers not only scuffled to break the police barricades, but they also staged a demonstration at Jantar Mantar and shouted provocative slogans. Even some senior party leaders joined in.
Congress is protesting against ED
Congress leaders from all over the country are participating in these demonstrations. There are reports of violent protests from outside Delhi. Congress leaders in large numbers have descended on Delhi from all parts of the country. Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel are both camping in Delhi, leaving behind their work in their respective states. Since the party has not a single MP or MLA from Delhi, leaders from outside the capital are being asked to come here to partake in the protest. They are trying to create chaos somehow to put pressure on the Modi government and investigating agencies. As part of this, Congress leaders also joined hands in opposing the Agnipath scheme and got involved in stopping trains. They also marched from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan in a bid to create pressure.
The National Herald case is being investigated
Actually, the Congress has gone berserk because of the ED probing the National Herald-Young Indian case. For the ED, it is a clear case of money laundering as the company, Associated Journals, which publishes the National Herald, worth over Rs 2,000 crore, was taken over by a new company like Young Indian by paying just Rs 50 lakh. Most of the ownership of this company rests with Rahul and his mother Sonia Gandhi. But the Congress thinks it’s just political vendetta of the Modi government.
The Congress continues issuing statements
Rather than waiting for the investigation report and the court’s final words on it, the Congress has chosen to oppose the ED probe in every possible way. Roads were blocked and the party workers clashed with the police during the first three days of questioning of Rahul. Last Wednesday, tired of the questioning, Rahul asked for a four-day break from the ED on the pretext of his mother’s illness. He used this time to mislead the youth and oppose the Modi government on the issue of the Agnipath scheme. His sister Priyanka went a step ahead and gave a call to the youth to dethrone the Modi government.
Why they are afraid of an investigation
The question is, why Congress leaders who constantly talk about the Constitution and independence of institutions are making such a fuss about Rahul Gandhi being quizzed by the ED? Is the Nehru-Gandhi family above the Constitution and the law? If there are prima facie grave charges of corruption against them, should there not be any investigation because they belong to the Nehru-Gandhi family? It should also be remembered that the Congress leaders have already knocked on the doors of the courts but they could not get any relief from there.
During the rule of Congress, Modi-Shah investigated
Are the Congress leaders suffering from amnesia? Have they forgotten that 12 years ago, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had appeared before probe agencies but they had not made any fuss about it? At that time, the Congress was in power at the Centre. The CBI documents that were leaked in those days are clear evidence that under the pressure of their political bosses, the CBI officers had tried to frame Modi and Shah.
The Congress had attempted to corner Modi
Not only the CBI, but the Congress had also deployed an NGO brigade and ensured through legal manoeuvres that the Supreme Court constituted an SIT to probe the key Gujarat riots cases. Even the investigation regarding the plea of Zakia Jafari about a conspiracy behind the riots was handed over to the SIT.
Those supporting the Congress were anti-Modi
This needs to be borne in mind that Teesta Setalvad, who was party to Zakia’s petition, was using her NGO Citizens for Justice and Peace to run an anti-Modi campaign. Modi at that time was the chief minister of Gujarat. The UPA government led by the Congress had conferred Teesta Setalvad with a Padma Shri in 2007 and she was also made part of the National Advisory Council, which was a Super Cabinet and was led by Sonia Gandhi. Teesta was a member of the committee that drafted the controversial Communal Violence Bill and this committee was constituted by the NAC.
Modi had immediately appeared before the SIT
Despite the machinations of the Congress against him, Modi did not give any statement against the SIT, and neither did he refuse to appear before it. In 2010, Modi had already been chief minister of Gujarat for over eight years. The SIT decided to summon Modi in the last week of March 2010 and an SIT officer reached the chief minister’s office in Gandhinagar with the papers.
Modi was questioned for 13 hours
Modi was asked to report to the SIT office on March 27, 2010, for questioning. He was told that if he thought this notice was too short, they were ready to give him some more time for making his appearance before the SIT. But Modi did not delay his appearance before the SIT even by a day. Through his secretary, he informed the SIT that he would be appearing before them on the morning of March 27.
Modi did not offer any excuses
Now just consider that Rahul is neither a chief minister of any state nor does he have any pressing official engagements as such. But despite that, he was not ready to appear on the first summons of the ED and instead asked for a week’s time. His mother Sonia Gandhi cited Covid-related ailments to not appear and got herself admitted to Sir Gangaram Hospital. But despite being very busy as the chief minister of Gujarat, Modi did not delay his appearance before the SIT even by a day.
Media was present but party workers were asked to stay away
On the morning of March 27, 2010, Modi reached the first floor of block no. 11 of the Old Secretariat in Gandhinagar. When he reached the SIT office, he was not accompanied by hordes of party workers, nor was there any leader or minister with him. Only the media was present there in large numbers – more than 50 journalists and around a dozen OB vans. It was a great opportunity for journalists to report the questioning of a chief minister, and that too Modi who had led his party to assembly election victories twice and had established his popularity.
Modi had appeared alone
Modi had not brought any member of his secretariat along with him. Only his security officers were with him and they did not accompany Modi to the SIT office. He took the stairs to reach the SIT office and the then police superintendent of Gandhinagar, Piyush Patel, was with him, and that too for the sake of protocol. But before entering the chamber of SIT chief RK Raghavan, he asked Patel to return.
AK Malhotra had questioned him
Modi was questioned by AK Malhotra, one of the SIT members. Ashutosh Parmar, a young sub-inspector of police, was typing the statement given by Modi. Malhotra and Parmar had reached the office with great difficulty just a few minutes before after avoiding media persons. They did not want any controversy regarding the investigation that was carried out under the watch of the Supreme Court and that is why they wanted to keep the media at bay.
Modi was quite comfortable
Despite being used to having a large presence of the media around him at most times, Modi was not at all perturbed by the questioning inside that closed room in the SIT office. Raghavan was sitting in an IPS mess in Ahmedabad and Malhotra was entrusted with the task of questioning Modi. Modi sat right in front of Raghavan’s seat in a chair on the right of the table, Malhotra sat on a chair on the left of the table, and next to him was Ashutosh with a laptop to type the statement of Modi.
He had not parried any questions
Before Malhotra could start, Modi asked him – hope you are not facing any problems in Gujarat, where are you staying? Malhotra answered his queries but did not miss the fact that Modi was not at all tense regarding the questioning. Malhotra was more convinced when Modi answered all his questions without even a pause. None of his answers were vague, and neither were they ‘yes-no’; he answered all the questions with enough details to satisfy Malhotra.
During Navaratri fast, Modi appeared before SIT
Modi’s questioning went on non-stop till late in the evening, 7pm. Eight hours had gone by and Modi was still not tired. Malhotra once offered him tea but Modi refused. It was Chaitra Navaratri and Modi was on a fast, he was only consuming lemon water. Modi had brought his own water with him. Finally, Malhotra himself suggested taking a break as he was tired and, like Modi, he too was on a fast that day.
So Modi came out of the SIT office at 7pm. Outside, the media persons thought that the questioning was over. But after two hours, Modi was back in the SIT office after performing his evening puja. He found time for his puja even in such difficult times.
The questioning lasted till about 2am
Modi returned to the SIT office at around 9pm and Malhotra proposed that if he felt tired, he could end the questioning after some time and perhaps call him for questioning on some other day. But Modi told him that if he was not tired, then he was ready to answer his questions. So now Malhotra had no option. The questioning started again, which lasted till 1.45am.
Modi did not change his statement
The questioning of Modi was conducted in Hindi but the statement was being typed in English as this whole document of the SIT was to be produced in the Supreme Court. Malhotra had asked a total of 71 questions and Modi’s replies to these questions filled 18 pages. After the questioning session ended, Modi read his own statement, which he had given by way of answers. He signed the statement without suggesting any amendment and got up to leave. Malhotra came out of the chamber to see him off.
Modi had come prepared for arrest
Answering questions was not a problem for Modi and, mentally, he had come prepared even for worse. When he got the summons from the SIT, he had a meeting with two prominent functionaries of his party just a day before his appearance. According to close political sources, Modi had told the then Gujarat BJP chief RC Faldu and organisational secretary Bhikhubhai Dalsaniya that if he were arrested, they should not waste even a day in choosing a new chief minister of the state. This was the mental preparation of Modi and, in this situation, where was the question of Modi getting perturbed by the questioning of the SIT.
Did not comment on probe, was honourably exonerated
Modi did not make any comments on the SIT investigation of the Gujarat riots. He did not say a word about the allegations against him and did not refute any of the charges; he endured them all silently. Modi broke his silence on this after more than two years. When the Ahmedabad court accepted the closure report of the SIT on December 27, 2013, he finally spoke up. The SIT had exonerated him from all the allegations levelled against him in connection with the Gujarat riots. On that day, Modi wrote a lengthy blog on this issue and said, “Satyameva Jayate” (truth always triumphs).
Sonia was attacking Modi
There was another great test of patience for Modi and his close colleague Amit Shah soon. This opportunity came just four months after Modi appeared before the SIT. Actually, in 2006, Soharabuddin Sheikh was killed in an encounter and this matter was investigated by the CBI which was trying to implicate both Modi and Shah in this case. At that time, the UPA-led government was in power at the Centre. Congress president Sonia Gandhi herself was attacking Modi and during an election rally in 2006, she laid the blame for the encounter of Sohrabuddin at Modi’s door, calling him “Maut Ka Saudagar” (merchant of death). It is another matter that Modi got this statement to work in his favour and said that the Congress cannot reach the assembly with Sohrabuddin’s funeral procession. The BJP emerged victorious in the polls with a huge majority and the Congress was badly defeated.
There was conspiracy to arrest Modi and Shah
The defeat had infuriated the Congress. The pressure increased on the CBI. This was the time when the Supreme Court had termed the CBI as a “caged parrot” that could say and do anything at the prodding of its masters. At that time, the CBI documents that were leaked clearly indicated that after arresting the police officers associated with the case, they were also planning to lay their hands first on Shah and then on Modi.
Move of CBI was anticipated
As per the finalised script, the CBI carried out the investigation and one after another police officers were arrested and were pressured to implicate Modi and Shah. They were given inducements for this – they were offered exoneration or were offered to be made an approver in the case. Modi and Shah knew about the political pressures the CBI was put under and its plans. But they remained quiet.
Shah surrendered after putting in his papers
And finally, the day came when the CBI, after sending him summons a couple of times and failing to arrest him, on July 23, 2010, filed a charge sheet in a special court against Amit Shah, the minister of state for home affairs in the state cabinet under Modi. After this, Amit Shah did not waste even 24 hours in resigning from his post. He sent in his papers to chief minister Narendra Modi early in the morning on July 24, 2010. It was Modi himself who announced that Amit Shah had resigned. At that time, Modi had come to Delhi to participate in the meeting of the National Development Council. While talking to the press in Delhi, he said that the allegations against Amit Shah were false but following the high tradition of political decorum, he accepted his resignation. Actually, till then, politics still had some decorum left, unlike present times when, unashamed of their complicity, ministers do not tender their resignations even after being arrested nor do the chief ministers ask them to resign. Nawab Malik and Satyendar Jain are the latest examples of this shameless fall in the standard of politics.
BJP workers had not made any hue and cry
On July 25, 2010, Amit Shah announced his surrender before the CBI court. At noon, when he reached the CBI office in Gandhinagar, only a handful of workers were with him. No slogans were raised against the CBI, as is done these days against the ED when Rahul Gandhi has not even been arrested, only questioned.
Amit Shah was kept in Sabarmati jail
Amit Shah also did not make any personal attacks against the agency nor did he question the court proceedings as is done today in case a judgment is not deemed favourable. In Gujarat, he was the minister of the prisons department, and he was kept in judicial custody in the Sabarmati jail in the same state for more than two months. Later, the Gujarat High Court granted him bail.
Shah spent nights on rough floor, without fan, bedsheet
The Gujarat High Court earlier sent Amit Shah into police custody on August 7, 2010. He was not even given a bedsheet just to torture and humiliate him during the custody. In the CBI office, Amit Shah was made to sleep in a room that had no plaster on its rough floor, neither was there a fan for the summer nights.
CBI did not accept request for video recording of statement
The Congress government was in such a combative mode against Amit Shah that it had sent senior advocate KTS Tulsi to ensure Shah did not get any relief from the court immediately. This is the same KTS Tulsi who was sent to the Rajya Sabha by the Congress as a gift. When Amit Shah was sent into two days’ custody, at that time he had asked that his statement be video recorded, but, surprisingly, his request was ignored.
Amit Shah was exonerated honourably
Like Modi was exonerated honourably in the SIT case, the same way, after a long court battle, Amit Shah was exonerated. He had to stay away from his state Gujarat till the case was decided in the court as per the SC order. But Amit Shah’s stay in Delhi proved costly for the Congress after all. Like Modi, Shah learnt the intricacies and tricks of national politics during his stay in Delhi. Modi and Shah ensured through Lok Sabha election victories that the Congress was pushed towards its most severe existential crisis since Independence and, for the BJP, a golden age dawned.
Modi-Shah in power and Congress leaders in the net
This is a bad time for the Congress. Modi is the Prime Minister since 2014 and Amit Shah is the minister of home affairs since 2019. Today many top leaders of the Congress are facing investigations, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. The allegations of misuse of agencies that were levelled during UPA rule are now being levelled by the Congress. The only difference is that both Modi and Shah faced such investigations with full courage while the leaders of the Congress are crying foul and creating a ruckus. Now the question is, if they are clean, then why are they afraid of the investigation? Rahul should learn from Modi and Shah, but this does not seem to be happening. After all, Rahul always has to take the route opposite to the one taken by Modi.