The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Wednesday questioned Congress president Sonia Gandhi for over three hours on the third day of her deposition in the National Herald newspaper-linked money laundering case.
No fresh summons was issued, officials said.
Sonia Gandhi reached the federal agency’s office in central Delhi at 11 am accompanied by her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and son Rahul Gandhi. The session began around 11.15 am. The team of investigators included the main probe officer and a person who took down statements dictated by the Congress chief. Sonia Gandhi left the ED office around 2 pm. The 75-year-old was questioned for over eight hours in the last two appearances and faced about 65-70 questions, officials said.
She is understood to have faced a set of 30-40 more questions on Wednesday.
Congress puts up united front
Earlier in the day, the Congress displayed a show of strength at a press conference. Sulking party veterans Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma (both leading lights of the G-23 rebel group) joined colleagues Ashok Gehlot, Jairam Ramesh and Pawan Khera to address a press conference at 24, Akbar Road.
Azad and Sharma had been missing in action when Rahul Gandhi was grilled by the ED for five days last month. Neither of them had even tweeted expressing solidarity with Rahul.
Similarly, Congress MP Manish Tewari, also part of G-23, has also been participating in the party’s protests against Sonia’s ‘harassment’ by the ED after giving a miss to similar protests organised by the party when Rahul was being quizzed.
Earlier, Kapil Sibal, who had quit the Congress in May and is now an independent RS MP backed by the Samajwadi Party, had also tweeted in Sonia’s support
Addressing the press meet, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the ED is following the same script of “terrorising the Opposition” for Sonia that it used for Rahul.
“The ED is basically being used to destabilize governments run by BJP’s rivals. The ED can topple governments, but it can’t help form a government; it’s been nearly a month but there is still no cabinet in Maharashtra, only the chief minister and his deputy,” he said.
“What a mockery have these people made of this country and its democratic institutions… We want the Supreme Court to give clarity without any delay on how the ED must function,” Gehlot added.
Azad cited health problems for not being able to participate in protests against the questioning of the Gandhis.
“I can also not understand why, when you have foisted a case against members of the same family – mother and son – do you have to call them separately for days and question them this way. Rahul, one may say, is young, you questioned him for five days but why are you doing this to Sonia Gandhi? Everyone knows she has not been well, she is old, frail and unwell. Why do you want to put her through this kind of questioning,” he asked.
“Even in a situation of war, rival sides tell their armies that two rules cannot be breached – you do not attack women and you do not attack the unwell… These people have not cared to even observe these basic courtesies,” he said.