Raising in Rajya Sabha the issue of the ED summons to him during Parliament session, Leader of Opposition in the House Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday alleged it was done to "frighten and intimidate" the Congress party, a charge rejected as "baseless" by Leader of the House Piyush Goyal.
The government does not interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies, Goyal said and asked the Congress leaders and the LoP to face the law instead of "running away". Raising the issue during the Question Hour amid uproar by Opposition members over the alleged misuse of agencies by the government to target leaders, Kharge asked whether it was fair on the part of the probe agency to summon him at a time when Parliament was in session.
He also said the residences of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi have been gheraoed by police. "If we carry on like this, will our democracy remain alive? Will we function as per our Constitution? This is being purposely done to demoralise us, destroy us and intimidate us. But we will not be afraid or intimidated and will fight," the senior Congress leader said, demanding that there be a discussion on the issue in the House.
"This House is functioning and I am the leader of the opposition parties. But right now, I have received summons from the ED to appear before it when a Parliament session is on. Right now, when Parliament is functioning, is it fair on the part of the ED to summon me?" he asked amid shouts of "shame, shame" from the Opposition benches. Kharge said he has been asked to appear before the ED at 12.30 PM when Parliament is in session and he being "a law-abiding citizen will follow the law".
Rebutting his charge, Goyal said the opposition leader's allegation is "baseless" and asked the Congress leaders and the LoP to face the law instead of running away. This government does not interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies, the Union minister said and accused the Congress of interfering in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies when it was in power.
He also urged the opposition party to allow the Parliament to function and let the law take its own course. "If anyone has done any wrong, the law will take its course. Whatever the LoP said is totally baseless. The matter has gone to the Supreme Court. The Congress leaders are on bail and the Congress leaders and the LOP should follow the law instead of running away," Goyal said.
"Our government does not in any manner interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies and allows them to do their work. Their government used to interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies. Our government has not done anything like this," he added. Appealing to the opposition members to allow the House to function, he said, "they should not insult the chair."
The opposition members kept raising slogans in the Well of the House as the chair carried on with the Question Hour amid the din. Kharge later appeared before the ED, which carried out searches in the office of the Young Indian in Herald House in the national capital. The ED had sealed the office on Wednesday evening.
Congress's chief whip in the Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh also alleged that "Modishahi" is reaching a new low as Kharge was summoned by the ED in the middle of a Parliament session. Tweeting about Kharge's interrogation, Ramesh said,"…His ordeal is continuing. The entire Congress party stands with him in solidarity."Other Congress leaders including Digvijaya Singh, Pramod Tiwari, Ranjeet Ranjan, Rajiv Shukla, and Naseer Hussain also accused the government of insulting the legislature by summoning the LoP when the Parliament session was on, saying such an action has been unprecedented in the democratic history of the country.