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Just a year ago, Congress was licking wounds after a massive defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, with the credibility of its top leadership being questioned assiduously, even within party forums. But on Saturday, in a massive show of strength, the party exploited their leaders’ appearance before a city court in the National Herald case to the hilt, to convey political message and revive spirits of its cadres. Despite sending a last-minute missive to party leaders to keep the affair low key, lest they invite wrath of judiciary, the party put up a resurgent and united face standing behind its leaders.

Just a year ago, Congress was licking wounds after a massive defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, with the credibility of its top leadership being questioned assiduously, even within party forums. But on Saturday, in a massive show of strength, the party exploited their leaders’ appearance before a city court in the National Herald case to the hilt, to convey political message and revive spirits of its cadres. Despite sending a last-minute missive to party leaders to keep the affair low key, lest they invite wrath of judiciary, the party put up a resurgent and united face standing behind its leaders.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a flip flop of strategy, finally on Friday night, on legal advice, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son vice-president Rahul Gandhi and others decided to file the bail bonds. Earlier , the AICC had also sent a missive to PCC chiefs of Delhi, UP, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, not to encourage party workers to come to Delhi. It was decided to make it a low-key affair and not organise any kind of march to the court as planned earlier. But despite the missive, party took all the limelight, alleging “political vendetta” resorted by the government, to target its leaders.The decision to keep it a low key affair was also taken on the legal advice that the judiciary is not well disposed towards the Congress and hence better not to do anything that is seen as a confrontation with the judiciary. Soon after returning from Tamil Nadu, on December 9, Rahul Gandhi had decided to — to brazen it out and like Arvind Kejriwal not take bail or even sign a personal bond and instead prefer going to jail. But, they were told by lawyers that even if the Supreme Court is to be moved, they will have to ultimately sign the bail bonds. They pointed out that Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal had refused to take bail and had to go to jail and they do not want that to happen with the Gandhis.Soon after out of court, fourth generation of Nehru-Gandhi family who faced law, a beaming Rahul told media that neither he, nor his party will bend. “Modiji jhute ilzaam lagvate hain. Vah sochte hain ki vipaksh isse jhuk jayega. Main desh ke logon se kahna chahta hun ki main aur Congress party nahin jhukenge,” (Modiji levels false allegations. They think that opposition will bend. I want to tell the people of the nation that I or Congress party will never bend), said Rahul addressing the media and assembled cheering crowd of Congress workers at the AICC headquarters, after appearing before the court.Just before him, Sonia Gandhi, for whom the bail was furnished by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said she was quite aware of the assaults by the opponents for generations “but they could never remove us from our path.” Asserting that “none of us will ever be frightened,” she said: “Our fight against them will continue, our struggle for Congress principles, policies and protection of the interests of poor will continue.” Rahul also declared: “Hum garibon aur kamjor logon ke liye ladte rahenge, aur ek inch peechhe nahi hatenge. (We shall continue to fight for poor and weaker sections of people and not back out even an inch.” He also conveyed his respect for the law.Both Sonia and Rahul were just withdrawing after the brief address when the assembled party workers called for Rahul. He returned to tell them: “Modiji Congress mukt Bharat ki baat karte hain — Bharat Congress mukt kabhi nahi hoga (Modi talks of Congress-free India. India will never be without Congress).” His office also put all his remarks on his Twitter handle.Sonia said the government is misusing its agencies, “but none of us will be frightened as our struggle will continue.” She started with mention of the National Herald case, stressing that she appeared before the court like any citizen abiding by the law. “Laws of the nation apply to all equally without fear or discrimination and I have no doubt that the truth will ultimately come out,” she said.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had also gone to the court as a solidarity with Gandhis, talked of the party’s determined fight for its values, its ideas and ideals and asserted that “nobody can detract the Congress Party from that path.” Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken signed the bail bond of Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad for Oscar Fernandes and Mallikarjun Kharge for Suman Dubey. The only accused in the case unable to appear in the court was Sam Pitroda as he was undergoing treatment in the United States. Congress MLA V S Rathore of Young India appeared on his behalf.Just two hours before Congress leaders appeared before the city court the party dubbed BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy as Prime Minister Modi’s “stooge” and “mask” rewarded with a VVIP security and government bungalow in the capital for dragging her and Congress to court in the National Herald case.”The Congress Party and the whole country had suspected from the beginning that the BJP and specially the PM are behind Dr Swamy slapping a bogus case. It was established now the way he was given the Z category security and a government bungalow as perks,” Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.All top Congress leaders as also Priyanka Gandhi met at Azad’s residence for a strategic session and later reached the court. They included former PM Manmohan Singh, Ahmed Patel, Azad, Ambika Soni, A K Antony and many senior Congress leaders who are not party in the case and yet went to the court in solidarity. The only Congress leaders summoned along with Gandhis are treasurer Motilal Vora and general secretary Oscar Fernandes.Despite denial of any show of strength in support of the Congress leadership, a huge crowd descended at the Akbar Road, many of them coming from Gandhis’ Amethi and Rai Bareli constituencies. Azad and party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said everybody is free to express solidarity with the leadership and it was the display of an emotional burst despite repeated appeals not to crowd in Delhi.There were protest demonstrations at many places across the country, including Varanasi, Bangalore, Nagpur and Jaipur. Rajasthan PCC chief Sachin Pilot led the Congress workers in Jaipur. Azad and his Lok Sabha counterpart Mallikarjun Kharge said the Congress has full faith in the judiciary to get justice as it has full faith right from the Supreme Court to the lowest court. Azad said Modi used to talk of “Congress-Mukt Bharat” (Congress-free India) but he now wants to finish the entire Opposition. Not only Sonia and Rahul but most of the leaders, barring Dr Manmohan Singh, chose to alight from their cars outside the Patiala Court compound and walk. They included a smiling Priyanka. Sonia was also all smile and waiving as she walked into the court.Meanwhile, the ruling BJP said corruption was synonymous with the Congress party, whether in power or otherwise. “When we say Congress-mukt bharat, we mean corruption-mukt bharat. Unfortunately, Congress and corruption are made for each other,” said parliamentary affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi.

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National Herald Case: Congress exploits Gandhis’ court appearances to the hilt