New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday thanked party workers for their support during his questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the National Herald case, and said he was not alone during the questioning but all those fighting for democracy were with him.
Rahul Gandhi said the officials at the ED asked him how come he did not get tired of the questioning and he cited the secondary reason that he practices Vipassana, but the real reason was that all party workers and leaders were with him in spirit in that room where he was being questioned.
“Officials also asked me about the secret of my patience and I said I cannot tell you that. I did not tell them but the reason for it I am telling you now is that I have been working in the Congress since 2004 and patience is there in all our leaders,” he said, citing the examples of Sachin Pilot, Siddaramaiah and Randeep Surjewala.
Gandhi asserted that a Congress worker never tires or gets scared. Addressing Congress parliamentarians and legislators from across the country who converged at the party headquarters to express solidarity with him after he was questioned by the ED, Gandhi said his questioning was an “unimportant” matter and the most important issue in the country is of jobs.
The former Congress chief alleged that the BJP government “which calls itself nationalist” was “weakening” the armed forces through the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to withdraw the military recruitment initiative just like he rolled back the farm laws.
Taking a dig at the Centre over the ‘Agnipath’ scheme, he also said those who talked about ‘one rank, one pension’ were bringing in ‘no rank, no pension’.
“The spine of the country — small and medium industries — has been broken by the Modi government. I say to all those who train in the morning to get into Army, Navy and Air force that the prime minister has broken the spine of the country and this country will not be able to give jobs to its youth,” the former Congress chief said.
“No matter what the government does, it will not be able to give jobs as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handed the country to two-three industrialists who cannot ensure jobs to the youth,” Gandhi said.
Now, they have “closed” even the last resort for the youth — to get into the armed forces, he said.
“The Chinese army is sitting on our land, it has snatched away over 1,000 square kilometre of our land. This truth has been accepted by the government,” Gandhi claimed.
“When there is a war, results of this will be evident…they are weakening the army, it will harm the country, and they call themselves nationalists,” Gandhi said, attacking the government.
Addressing party leaders and workers, he said the party will work together to get “this new betrayal of the army and country by the government” annulled.
“Mr. Prime Minister, true patriotism lies in strengthening the army, but you are weakening the army with a ‘new deception’. In this movement to save the future of the country, we are with the youth,” Gandhi said.
Addressing the gathering, Congress general secretary organisation K C Venugopal announced that the party has decided to hold a massive nationwide demonstration against ‘Agnipath’ on June 27, demanding the withdrawal of the scheme.
Several parts of the country witnessed protests after the announcement of the scheme that seeks to recruit youths between the age bracket of 17-and-half years to 21 for only four years with a provision to retain 25 per cent of them for 15 more years. For 2022, the upper age limit has been extended to 23 years.
Meanwhile, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who was hospitalised for over a week for COVID-19 complications, wrote to the ED on Wednesday seeking postponement of her appearance in the National Herald case by a few weeks till she recovers completely.
The ED is learnt to have accepted her request and may give her a fresh date soon, sources said.
The 75-year-old Congress leader, who was discharged from hospital on June 20, had been summoned by the agency for questioning on June 23 in the money laundering case related to the newspaper.