The Congress on Thursday raised the issue of Enforcement Directorate action and police gherao of its party office and the residences of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, with Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge saying in the Rajya Sabha that he has been summoned by the ED at a time when Parliament is in session.
Leader of the House Piyush Goyal, however, claimed that the government does not interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies and said Congress leaders should face the law, not run away from it and allow Parliament to function.
Raising the issue during the Question Hour, after an Opposition uproar in the House over the alleged misuse of agencies by the government to target leaders, Kharge said this is an attempt to intimidate them and they will not be cowed down.
"This House is functioning and I am the leader of the opposition parties. But right now, I have received a 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.
Noting that he is a law-abiding citizen and has to leave for the ED office at 12.30 pm, Kharge said, "I do not want to avoid the law and I want to follow the law."
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.
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.
'Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, was summoned by the ED when Parliament was in session. He, of course, left around 12:20 pm and presented himself. This is Modishahi reaching new lows,' the former Union minister said on Twitter.
Responding to his remarks, Goyal said this government does not interfere in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies and accused the Congress of interfering in their work when it was in power.
He also rebutted Kharge's claims and said Congress leaders should face the law and not run away from it.
"They may have been interfering in the functioning of law-enforcement agencies when they were in power," he said.
"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, even as the chair carried on with the Question Hour amid the din.
V Vijaisai Reddy, who was in the chair, kept pleading with the protesting Opposition members to return to their seats.
"It is not right to enter the Well and stand in front of the podium. Please go back to your seats," Reddy told the unrelenting Opposition members.