ED questions Sonia | ‘Aged and ailing’: Azad makes emotional pitch, party holds protests

As the Enforcement Directorate questioned Sonia Gandhi for the third time, the Congress on Wednesday fielded veterans Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma — the two prominent members of the G23 that has been critical of the leadership’s style of functioning — to defend her. Azad made an emotional pitch saying the government should not unnecessarily trouble an aged and unwell Sonia and argued political opponents should not be treated as “enemies”.

Sharma said laws like PMLA are being weaponised to target and humiliate people, which should not happen.

The Congress continued its street protests and several of its MPs, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, were once again detained by the police as they came out of Parliament building in a procession, protesting against the questioning of Sonia. The Congress MPs led by Kharge also staged a protest at the Gandhi statue in Parliament.

Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters with Sharma and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Azad slammed the ED for summoning Sonia again and again when the agency had already questioned her son Rahul Gandhi in the same case for several hours over five days. Azad said it was not right on the part of the agency to trouble a woman of her age.

“During the olden days…even in wars, kings used to give directions that women should not be attacked and those who were not keeping well should be spared,” Azad said, urging the agencies not to be harsh on an aged and ailing Sonia. The ED questioned her for three hours Wednesday. She was given no fresh summons indicating that her questioning had concluded.

Interestingly, both Azad and Sharma refrained from speaking about specifics of the case.

“The issue is not about summoning or questioning…India being a rule-based, rule-governed country and a constitutional democracy, while respecting and implementing the laws, we must also respect the fundamental rights, not only of liberty, justice, but also the right to reputation and privacy,” Sharma said.

Gehlot said there is “terror of the ED” in the country.