NEW DELHI: As a mark of protest over the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) probe against Rahul Gandhi in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper and the Centre's newly launched Agnipath recruitment scheme, Congress held a 'Satyagraha' at Jantar Mantar in the national capital on Monday.
Top Congress leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Salman Khurshid, K Suresh, V Narayanasamy, KC Venugopal and others were present at Congress' Satyagraha at Jantar Mantar.
As Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to appear before the ED on Monday for the fourth round of questioning, the party is holding a protest against the Central government's alleged "vendetta politics".
The Wayanad MP was questioned by ED from June 13 to 15 amid intense protests from party leaders and workers. Notably, the ED had asked Gandhi to appear again on Friday (June 17), but he requested the officials to exempt him from appearing and urged for a new date on Monday (June 20).
Later, ED issued fresh summons to Rahul Gandhi to join the investigation on Monday, granting his request to the agency to consider deferring his questioning from June 17 to June 20 citing his mother and Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi's health condition.
Congress is also staging protests against the Agnipath recruitment scheme.
"We will sit on Satyagraha at Jantar Mantar today, and in the evening at 5 pm, we will meet the President and demand that the Agnipath scheme be withdrawn," Congress leader Ajay Maken told reporters on Monday. He said the scheme needs to be discussed with the youth first before implementation.
"The scheme should first be discussed with youth and in Parliament, but before that, it should be withdrawn," he added. The Union Cabinet on June 14 approved a recruitment scheme for Indian youth to serve in the three services of the Armed Forces called Agnipath and the youth selected under this scheme will be known as Agniveers.
After the policy, which allows Indian youths to serve in the regular cadre of the Armed Forces for a period of four years, was announced on June 14, protests erupted in various states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand and Assam.
As the agitation intensified in some places, protestors went on the rampage setting trains on fire, torching vehicles and damaging both private and public properties. Protests have disrupted rail services in several parts of the country.
A total of 491 train services have been affected throughout the country due to the ongoing agitation, informed railway officials on Sunday. Going back to ED versus Rahul Gandhi fiasco, the former Congress president was questioned in detail about the ownership of Young Indian Private Limited (YIL) by the Gandhi family and its shareholding pattern in Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the company that runs the National Herald newspaper, said sources.
Investigators in the ED, sources said, had also asked Rahul Gandhi to describe the circumstances under which AJL was acquired by YIL in 2010, making it the owner of all assets owned by the National Herald newspaper.
The National Herald, started by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, was published by the AJL. In 2010, the AJL, which faced financial difficulties, was taken over by a newly-floated YIL with Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda as directors, both of them Gandhi loyalists.
In a complaint in the Delhi High Court, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy accused Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi, and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds.
Officials familiar with the probe said Rahul Gandhi is being asked questions about the takeover of the AJL by YIL since the Gandhis have stakes in the latter. The Congress leader is being questioned under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).