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A tale of two Indias: When a sitting CM of state followed rule of land, while an MP’s supporters believe he is above law

After spearheading the national politics for about seven decades after India's Independence, members of the Nehru-Gandhi family have been asked to follow the rules of the State.

The National Herald scam is one of the most high-profile legal cases in Indian history since current members of the Gandhi family are directly accused. After an unconditional bail in 2015, it was for Rahul and Sonia Gandhi to finally appear for questioning at the ED office in connection to the money laundering case in Delhi. The mere news of the ED summoning the Gandhis had rattled the Congress supporters – who then complained of the Modi Government ‘misusing’ its power to target Rahul Gandhi.

However, the Gandhi family’s uncanny reluctance to submit themselves before the constitutional procedure results from their entitlement to see themselves as a family above the institutions of the nation. After spearheading the national politics for about seven decades after India’s Independence, members of the Nehru-Gandhi family have been asked to follow the rules of the State. While the money laundering accusation against the Gandhis has come after AJL’s unjustified acquisition of prime properties across Indian cities, appearing before the ED for a scheduled inquiry was a given.

The date came June 13. While Sonia Gandhi was given a later date of June 23 given her ‘health concerns’, all eyes were now on Rahul Gandhi to see whether he appears before the central body. The Congress party announced to stage protests across the country at 25 party offices. Calling it a ‘Satyagrah’, Congress workers on Monday in large numbers took out agitations against the notice served to Rahul Gandhi, as he reached the ED office.

For creating a disturbance in civic order, several Congress leaders were detained from outside the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) office. The party had planned the march from party headquarters to the ED’s office. Amidst heavy police presence, the party workers took out a march from the party headquarters to the investigative agency’s office.

The police detained several other Congress leaders for trying to foment trouble before Rahul Gandhi’s appearance in the ED office. Along with other workers, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, senior leader Harish Rawat, Congress leaders Rajni Patil, Akhilesh Prasad Singh, L. Hanumanthaiah, and Thirunavukkarasar Su. were detained by the police.

During the so-called Satyagrah March, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi arrived in a gesture to meet detained Congress leaders like Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and KC Venugopal at the Tughlaq Road Police station.

Congress leaders, while talking to the media raised questions over the enquiry of Rahul Gandhi by the investigative body. Randeep Singh Surjewala, in a press conference, said that the BJP Government has imposed an ‘undeclared emergency‘ in Delhi, whereas, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram called it a ‘blatant misuse‘ of ED.

Enquiry by Supreme Court SIT against Narendra Modi

As the Congress party took over the nation to its whims when Rahul Gandhi reached the ED premises, one should be reminded of the time when Narendra Modi, the then CM of Gujarat was called for an SIT questioning in 2010. In the 2002 Godhra riots case, Supreme Court-monitored SIT was formed to look into the allegations of one Zakia Jafri and as part of the process in March 2010, the sitting chief minister of the state was grilled by the SIT for nine hours.

Narendra Modi answered every question that was asked to him regarding the case. Moreover, former CBI director R K Raghavan detailed about the inquiry in his book while he wrote, “When (we) asked him whether he would like to break for lunch, he initially turned down the offer. He brought his own bottle of water and did not accept even a cup of tea from the SIT during the marathon questioning comprising hundred-odd questions. Such was the energy of the man.”

When Modi came out of the enquiry following all legal procedures, he talked to the media asserting that he wanted to cooperate fully with the law. “The Supreme Court SIT had written to me a letter in which I was asked to visit the ED personally. On March 27, today, I am here before the SIT. They had a detailed discussion with me and have asked me all the questions they intended to ask. I have said this already that laws in the constitution are Supreme and as a citizen and the Chief Minister, I am too bound by the law,” Modi expressed after his grilling by the SIT was over.

In September 2013, The SIT gave a clean chit to Modi against Jafri’s allegations. The Ahmedabad court too rejected a protest petition filed against the clean chit given to Narendra Modi in the 2002 riots case. It was only then, that the BJP workers and Modi supporters held celebratory demonstrations in Gujarat and Delhi. Enthusiastic party workers burst crackers at the BJP headquarters after Modi, now the sought-after PM was cleared of all allegations.

BJP leader late Arun Jaitley, while acknowledging Modi’s faith in following the democratic process held, “There were pre-emptive and punitive arrests, cases were filed, people were punished, there were investigations by the SIT, there was a Supreme Court-monitored probe, an amicus curiae, then the SIT’s report to the magistrate, Mr Modi himself was interrogated for over nine hours.”

What’s the difference?

Two parties – one which claims to have brought democracy to India and the other which is often tainted to have backsided while upholding the same principles showcase different behaviour when real democracy is to be exercised. No BJP karyakarta protested while the sitting Chief Minister of Gujarat quietly went and appeared before the Supreme Court SIT. Narendra Modi too, through his demeanour, practised his commitment to following the rule of law.

Rahul Gandhi’s case was assumably different. While the Gandhis always thought of themselves as a family, way above India’s institutions, it was thus appalling for Congress workers to see their leader being made to answer tough questions before the ED. While the fifth-generation dynast was only asked to follow the investigation procedure, the party employed its members – from sitting Chief Ministers to ground-level workers to hold Delhi hostage, as Gandhi reached the ED office.

Therein lies the difference.

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