Congress MPs stage a protest march over the ED questioning of Sonia Gandhi | ANI
New Delhi: Congress MPs Wednesday staged a protest at Vijay Chowk here over the alleged misuse of investigative agencies and were detained by police, with the party calling it a "murder of democracy" and claiming the government wants an "Opposition-mukt Bharat".
As the Enforcement Directorate questioned Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for the third time in a money laundering case pertaining to National Herald newspaper, party MPs gathered in the Parliament house in the morning and held a meeting with their leaders before marching to Vijay chowk in protest.
Minutes after the protest started, the MPs were detained and put in police vans.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi was not present at the party MPs' protest at Vijay chowk, unlike on Tuesday when he was also detained.
The protesting MPs were released around 4 PM.
Several leaders of the Youth Congress, Mahila Congress and the party's student wing -- the National Students' Union of India (NSUI) -- also staged a strong protest at the party headquarters against Sonia Gandhi's questioning by the ED and were taken away in police buses. They were also released in the evening.
Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and a host of party MPs sat on a protest and raised slogans against the "misuse" of agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the suspension of Opposition MPs from both houses of Parliament.
They also raised the issues of price rise and imposition of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on certain essential daily-use items.
The MPs marched from the Parliament complex to the Vijay Chowk lawns, where they held a sit-in and raised slogans.
"We are fighting on issues of people such as price rise and GST on essential items of daily use. We will keep fighting against this and the misuse of the ED and other agencies. The suspension of MPs is wrong and we demand that it be taken back immediately," Kharge told reporters.
Chowdhury said the manner in which investigative agencies are being used, it seems that the government wants an "Opposition-mukt Bharat".
Talking to reporters from a police van, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, "Today also our MPs have been detained. This is a murder of democracy. The Modi government is not allowing a discussion on price rise and GST on essential items. And when we are raising our voice for discussions in Parliament and the politics of vendetta, we have again been detained."
"For the third day, Congress MPs staging legitimate and peaceful protests at Vijay Chowk have been taken away to God (and PM and HM) alone know where. This is Muzzling Of Democracy In India in action!" Ramesh later said in a tweet.
Earlier in the day, the Congress alleged that the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) has been weaponised to target and humiliate people, and urged the Supreme Court to decide on the matter concerning the National Herald-Associated Journals Limited case soon.
The assertion came on a day when Sonia Gandhi (75) appeared before the ED for the third day to face questioning in connection with the money laundering case.
The Congress also fielded its senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad in solidarity with Gandhi and said political opponents should not be treated as "enemies".
He was joined by Anand Sharma and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who said the Supreme Court should decide on the case soon. PTI