BJP Minister threatens Oppn MPs with ED raids in Parliament for interrupting speechtext_fields
New Delhi: Amidst widespread allegations of the misuse of Central agencies to settle political rivalries by the ruling BJP, Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture, Meenakshi Lekhi, was heard issuing a brazen threat of ED raids to opposition MPs in Parliament for interrupting her speech on Thursday.
Her contentious remark, made during deliberations over the Delhi services bill on August 3, threatened to escalate tensions between the ruling BJP and the Opposition.
Lekhi, while defending the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, which grants increased powers to the Delhi Lieutenant Governor, aimed a brazen comment at her political adversaries.
"One minute, stay quiet, lest ED visits your house," she declared, prompting objections and uproar from the Opposition benches. Lekhi later defended her statement, asserting that it was made "in jest," and continued her speech amid the uproar.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accused her of openly using the threat of Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids to suppress dissent and silence Opposition voices. The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) joined the condemnation, labelling the incident as an "egregious abuse of power" and an attempt to stifle democratic dissent.
The backdrop of the controversy was the contentious Delhi services bill, which saw the Lok Sabha passing the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill through a voice vote, while the Opposition staged a walkout in protest.
The legislation grants the Delhi Lieutenant Governor final authority over the transfer and posting of Delhi government officials, triggering concerns about encroachment on the autonomy of the Delhi government.
During the debate, some Opposition MPs raised allegations of the Union government misusing the ED to target political opponents. This sparked Lekhi's controversial response, intensifying the already charged atmosphere in the house.
Opposition leaders have been persistent in their accusations of political misuse of the ED. The issue gained prominence after the Supreme Court deemed the multiple extensions granted to ED Director SK Mishra as illegal.
Congress General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala called for an independent investigation into the agency's actions post-November 17, 2021, the date when Mishra received his first extension. The Supreme Court recently extended Mishra's tenure until September 15 but declined further extensions.
The debate over the Delhi services bill also saw other tense moments. Leader of the Congress, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, criticized the bill, claiming it encroached on the powers of the Delhi government and was detrimental to cooperative federalism. His remarks were met with intermittent muting of his microphone, adding to the opposition's grievances.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah capitalized on the moment to launch a scathing attack on the Opposition. He highlighted their unity in participating in the discussion despite previous disagreements, emphasizing the necessity of the bill to establish essential rules for Delhi's governance.