New Delhi:

Union home minister Amit Shah on Friday accused the Congress of appeasement politics, declaring their black-clothes protest was actually against the foundation ceremony of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Pointing out that today is the anniversary of the foundation ceremony, he said the Congress, by holding the protest in black clothes, “is sending a subtle message that they are protesting against the foundation ceremony for Ram Janmabhoomi and are taking forward their policy of appeasement”.

The Congress hit back, saying it was a desperate attempt to “divert, distract, polarise and give a malicious twist” to its democratic demonstrations against price rise.

“Home Minister has made a desperate attempt to divert, distract, polarise and give a malicious twist to today’s democratic protests of @INCIndia against price rise,unemployment & GST. It’s only a sick mind which can produce such bogus arguments. Clearly the protests have hit home!” tweeted senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.

The Congress protest march — planned since last week — turned into a massive row today. The Delhi police, which withheld  permission for the protest, detained key leaders of the party including Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

“This is about cases registered in court. Why do they hold protests every day? I feel the Congress has a hidden agenda — they have extended their appeasement policy in a disguised manner,” said Mr Shah, whose ministry is in charge of the law and order in Delhi.

Questioning the timing of the protest, he said, “Today, the Enforcement Directorate has not summoned anybody or questioned anybody. No raids have happened… I don’t understand why the protest had to be held today”.

“I admit that it was on this day that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid the foundation for the Ram Janmabhoomi, providing a peaceful solution to a 550-year-old problem. Nowhere in the country was there any violence of riot…  I’ll say that a policy of appeasement is neither good for the country, nor the Congress,” said the Home Minister.   

The Congress has held multiple protests in Delhi and other states since the Enforcement Directorate started questioning the Gandhis in an alleged money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper. Almost all of them have ended with police action and injuries to many, especially elderly MPs and former ministers.

The Congress had started today’s protests by wearing black clothes to parliament. Proceedings were adjourned as amid an uproar over the alleged misuse of probe agencies by the government.

As the march to Rashtrapati Bhavan started soon after, dramatic visuals showed the police grappling with the leaders, trying to stop and detain them.  

The opposition parties condemned the police action as videos of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra being physically dragged away by the police were widely circulated on social media.

The leaders were released in the evening after nearly six hours.  

The Congress and other opposition parties have been continuously raising questions in parliament against price rise, the recent widening of ambit of the Goods and Service Tax and unemployment. Protests are being held inside parliament and out.

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