Stepping up its attack on the BJP-led government over ED raids against Robert Vadra's associates, the Congress Saturday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of using probe agencies for "political vendetta" and to "besmirch" the names of people living with dignity.
After the Congress's attack, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hit back, dubbing Vadra the "fountainhead of corruption". Party spokesperson Sambit Patra lashed out at the Congress, saying it showed that Vadra was only a conduit and the "final track probably leads to the family".
Senior Congress leaders Kapil Sibal, Ahmed Patel and Randeep Surjewala held a press conference in the evening at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters here, hours after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) carried out raids against Vadra's associates for the second day.
The raids against three persons linked to Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, had started Friday.
Official sources said the action was taken on the basis of two FIRs filed by the agency.
"People are being harassed, held practically under arrest in their houses, raided without any notice. Is this the kind of change Modi had advocated for in (the) 2014 (Lok Sabha) election?", Sibal asked at the press conference.
He alleged that agencies like the ED were "acting on the directions of the prime minister".
Asked if he was suggesting that there was a constitutional failure in the country as agencies that were supposed to uphold the rule of law were being used by the government for its own purposes, Sibal said, "Not only suggesting, but this is my charge that the PM and the PMO are using these agencies for political vendetta and besmirching the names of people who are living with dignity in this country."
The Congress leader, however, did not present any evidence in support of his charge.
There was no reaction of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) to the opposition party's allegation.
"When law enforcement agencies start doing hooliganism, then who will probe them? And if they get the support of the prime minister, then who will investigate it?
"No Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) of the FIR has been shared, no search warrant issued, people were forced to sign on blank papers. Is this democracy? Is this the rule of law?," Sibal asked.
He also claimed that the BJP and Modi were "frustrated" with the exit poll projections on the just-concluded Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana Assembly elections.
"If this is the situation at exit polls, what will happen when they (BJP) exit (lose the polls)?," Sibal asked.
"Wherever there are people of opposition parties, they are being targeted and the I-T (Income Tax department) or the ED is being sent after them, or they are being arrested or getting picked up at night," he alleged.
Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi alleged at a press conference that the Modi dispensation was using "high-handed tactics" to threaten people as it was in a "state of panic of the highest degree", sensing poll defeats.
He also alleged that there was never such a "terror raj" in the "constitutional rule" of India.
"We fought the British Raj and the BJP would do well to know that the day of judgement will come for it," he said.
The Congress leader claimed that the BJP was in a "state of panic of the highest degree", sensing rejection by the people in the just-concluded Assembly polls.Singhvi claimed that the searches against Vadra's associates were carried out in violation of laws, adding, "We have nothing against any particular person, but we are talking about principles.... No Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR) of the FIR has been shared, no search warrant issued, no access to lawyers and detained persons were also physically roughed up.