Congress members created a ruckus and disrupted the Rajya Sabha's proceedings on Tuesday accusing the government of "vendetta politics" in the National Herald newspaper case.
The protest by Congress parliamentarians came in the wake of Delhi High Court's dismissal of the plea of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday seeking to quash summons issued to them by a trial court on BJP leader Subramanian Swamy's complaint in the case. Agitated Congress members trooped near the chairman's podium and raised slogans as soon as the house met.
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, condemned the opposition and asked them if their problem was with the government or with the court. "What kind of protest is it? Is it against the government or court? Follow the legal process," said Naqvi.
Due to the ruckus, the House was first adjourned till 11.30 a.m., and then till 12 noon. Sonia Gandhi said there was nothing for her to get scared of in the National Herald case as she was the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi.
"Why should I be scared of anyone? I am (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi's daughter-in-law. I am not scared of anyone," Gandhi told reporters.
Sonia Gandhi's comment was the first after a Delhi court fixed 19 December as the date for her appearance in court, as also of her son Rahul Gandhi in connection with the National Herald case. Metropolitan Magistrate Lovleen granted them exemption from personal appearance on Tuesday.
The Congress later dubbed the case as "petty vendetta politics of the BJP".
On 26 June last year, the trial court issued summons to the Congress leaders on Swamy's complaint about "cheating" in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd. (AJL) by Young India Ltd. (YIL) - "a firm in which Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each own a 38% stake".
Appearing for the Gandhis, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the court that both were willing to appear but the Delhi High Court order was received late.
He moved an application to seek exemption from appearance for the Gandhis for the day. Congress treasurer Moti Lal Vora, Gandhis' family friend Suman Dubey and another party leader Oscar Fernandes were also granted exemption. Complainant Swamy opposed their plea for exemption.
During a previous hearing in the case, the trial court had said that the YIL appeared to have been "created as a sham or a cloak to convert public money to personal use" or a special purpose vehicle to acquire control over AJL assets worth Rs.2,000 crore.
Swamy alleged that the AJL received an interest-free loan of Rs 90.25 crore from the Congress and the party transferred the debt to YIL for Rs 50 lakh.
At that time, AJL with Vora as its chairman allegedly said it could not repay the loan and agreed to transfer the company and its assets to YIL.