Tag Archives: Congress

Democrats unveil Trump impeachment articles, including abuse of power, obstruction of Congress

House Democrats announced two articles of impeachment Tuesday against President Donald Trump – abuse of power and obstruction of Congress – pushing toward historic votes over charges he corrupted the U.S. election process and endangered national security. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, flanked by the chairmen of the impeachment inquiry committees, stood at the Capitol in what she called a “solemn act.” Voting is expected in a matter of days in the Judiciary Committee and by Christmas in the full House. Trump insisted he did “NOTHING” wrong.

“He endangers our democracy, he endangers our national security,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the Judiciary chairman announcing the charges before a portrait of George Washington. “Our next election is at risk… That is why we must act now.”

Trump tweeted ahead of the announcement that impeaching a president with a record like his would be “sheer Political Madness!”

The outcome, though, appears increasingly set as the House prepares for voting, as it has only three times in history against a U.S. president.

In drafting the articles of impeachment, Pelosi is facing a legal and political challenge of balancing the views of her majority while hitting the Constitution’s bar of “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Some liberal lawmakers wanted more expansive charges encompassing the findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Centrist Democrats preferred to keep the impeachment articles more focused on Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. House Democrats have announced two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

The charges unveiled Tuesday stem from Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to announce investigations of his political rivals as he withheld aid to the country.


Bolivian interim leader meets UN envoy as death toll mounts

Four more people have died in protests in Bolivia, raising the total number of victims in the political unrest to 23, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said on Saturday.

The new deaths were announced after five protesters were killed in clashes with security forces on Friday in central Bolivia, a political stronghold of exiled ex-president Evo Morales.

The Washington-based IACHR, a part of the Organization of American States, also recorded 122 wounded since Friday.

Bolivian interim leader meets UN envoy

A UN envoy met with Bolivia’s interim president to find a way out of the country’s political crisis while the world body expressed concern the situation could “spin out of control” amid a rising death toll.

On leaving the meeting with interim leader Jeanine Anez, envoy Jean Arnault said the United Nations hopes it can contribute to an “accelerated pacification process” leading to new elections following the resignation and exile of Evo Morales.

Meanwhile, another international body, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, condemned Anez’s government for issuing a decree it says “exempts from criminal responsibility” soldiers who took part in efforts to break up protests and unrest that have left at least 23 people dead.

The norm was approved before the most violent day since the crisis began when at least eight pro-Morales coca growers were killed when security forces opened fire during a demonstration.

“It is not a license for the Armed Forces to kill,” Presidency Minister Jerjes Justiniano told a press conference. He said the decree is based on the Criminal Code, which states that “if one defends oneself in self-defence, there is no penalty.”

Earlier Saturday, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet issued a statement calling the deaths “an extremely dangerous development.”

“I am really concerned that the situation in Bolivia could spin out of control if the authorities do not handle it sensitively and in accordance with international norms,” she said.

Protesters said police fired on Friday when demonstrators tried to cross a military checkpoint in Sacaba, a town near Cochabamba. Many of the protesters were coca leaf growers loyal to Morales, who had been Bolivia’s first indigenous president before being pressured to step down by Bolivia’s military chief after weeks of widespread protests over a disputed election.

Witnesses to the clash described seeing the bodies of several protesters and dozens of people rushed to hospitals, many covered in blood.

Contentious presidency

Morales stepped down following nationwide protests over suspected vote-rigging in an October 20 election, which he claimed to have won to gain a fourth term in office.

Morales, who was granted asylum in Mexico after his November 10 resignation, said on Twitter that a “massacre” had occurred and he described the interim government led by Anez as a dictatorship.

On Friday, Anez said Morales would face possible legal charges for election fraud if he returned home from Mexico City. She also has said Morales would not be allowed to participate in a new presidential election, which is supposed to be held within three months.

The ousted leader, meanwhile, contended this week that he is still president since the country’s legislature has not yet approved his resignation.

Morales has denied there was fraud, though an Organization of American States audit reported widespread irregularities.

Backers of the interim government deny there was any coup against Morales, saying police and the military withdrew backing from him only to avoid shedding civilian blood during the mass protests against him.

Supporters of Morales, who was Bolivia’s president for almost 14 years and was the last survivor from the “pink tide” of South American leftist leaders, have been staging disruptive protests since his resignation, setting up blockades that forced the closure of schools and caused shortages of gasoline in the capital.

Anez, who had been the highest-ranking opposition official in the Senate, proclaimed herself president after Morales resigned, saying every person in the line of succession ahead of her — all of them Morales backers — had resigned.

The Constitutional Court issued a statement backing her claim that she didn’t need to be confirmed by Congress, a body controlled by Morales’ Movement Toward Socialism party.

Much of the opposition to Morales sprang from his refusal to accept a referendum that upheld term limits that barred him from seeking another term. He got the courts to declare the limits a violation of his human rights to seek office.


Pressure builds as Trump impeachment probe hears new claims

Two top US diplomats delivered gripping testimony on Wednesday about Donald Trump’s efforts to get Ukraine to investigate his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden, as the impeachment inquiry into the president shifted into a new phase of high-stakes televised hearings.

No more debate impeachment inquiry is underway

Republicans call for Trumps impeachment

Trump dismissed the probe in the Democratic-led House of Representatives as a “witch hunt” and said he was “too busy” to watch the first public hearings, during which he received staunch backing from Republican lawmakers.

William Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, began his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee with a new revelation about Trump’s efforts to pressure Kiev — the main issue of just the fourth impeachment process in US history.

Democrats accuse Trump of abusing his power by using US military assistance and a possible White House meeting to pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky into opening a probe into the Democrat Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma.

The key evidence is the official White House transcript of a July 25 telephone call between Trump and Zelensky in which the US president asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate the Bidens.

Taylor testified that he was told Trump cared more about the probe than he did about Ukraine.

The grey-haired former Army officer and veteran diplomat, who testified in a closed hearing last month, said he had since become aware of a telephone call between Trump and the US’s EU ambassador Gordon Sondland, which a member of Taylor’s staff overheard.

The staffer asked Sondland after the call what Trump thought about Ukraine and was told that “President Trump cared more about the investigations of Biden,” Taylor said.

Freshman House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an outspoken Trump critic, said the new Taylor comment added “a layer of proximity” for the president.

“(Trump) himself was making and partaking in some of these phone calls… And that really adds a much more disturbing degree of the involvement that he had in using the powers of government to create politically motivated investigations,” the New York representative told CNN.

Asked about the new allegations, while hosting his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House, Trump replied: “First time I’ve heard it.”

Sondland “did speak to me for a brief moment, and I said no quid pro quo under any circumstances.”

‘He didn’t open investigations’

Republicans sought to undercut the witnesses’ testimony by focusing on Hunter Biden’s role on the Burisma board, pointing out that he was paid $50,000 a month and questioning his qualifications.

They also stressed that the Ukrainians were not aware for months that the White House had put a hold on the nearly $400 million in military assistance and that it was eventually released in September.

“What did President Zelensky actually do to get the aid?” asked John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican congressman. “The answer is nothing. He didn’t open investigations.

“He didn’t do any of the things that House Democrats say that he was being forced and coerced and threatened to do.”

In his opening statement, Taylor recalled opposing making US military aid to Ukraine or a White House visit by Zelensky contingent on Kiev investigating the Bidens.

“Withholding security assistance in exchange for help with a domestic political campaign in the United States would be crazy,” he said. “I believed that then and I believe it now.”

Taylor said an “irregular policy channel” involving former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, was pushing for the Ukrainian probe into the Bidens.

Fellow witness George Kent, a career diplomat, was asked what interests Giuliani was promoting.

“I believe he was looking to dig up political dirt against a potential rival in the next election cycle,” said the deputy assistant secretary of state.

“I do not believe the United States should ask other countries to engage in selective politically associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power because such selective actions undermine the rule of law.”

‘Scorched-earth war’

If the House impeaches Trump, it would then go to trial in the Senate, where Republicans enjoy a 53-47 majority.

The next hearing is scheduled for Friday, featuring the US ambassador to Ukraine who Kent said was recalled by Trump after being subjected to a “smear campaign” by Giuliani.

Eight more witnesses, including Sondland, are to appear next week, the second of several planned weeks of hearings.

The investigation threatens to make Trump the third US president to be impeached, after Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, although the Senate would need to convict him to remove him from office.

Neither Johnson nor Clinton was convicted. But in 1974, Richard Nixon resigned in the face of certain impeachment and removal from office for the Watergate scandal.

In his opening statement, committee chairman Adam Schiff, the California congressman overseeing the probe, said the proceedings will examine “whether President Trump sought to exploit (Ukraine’s) vulnerability and invite Ukraine’s interference in our elections.”

“If this is not impeachable conduct, what is?”

Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the panel, hit back by accusing Democrats of a “carefully orchestrated media smear campaign.”

“It’s nothing more than an impeachment process in search of a crime.”

Coming just one year before elections, the hearings carry great risks for both parties and no certain reward, with a divided US electorate weary of Washington infighting.

Polls show a slim majority of Americans favor impeachment, but Trump’s sizable voter base — which delivered his shock victory in 2016 — rejects the allegations.


Ilhan Omar’s alleged lover Tim Mynett denies having affair

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s alleged lover Tim Mynett has denied bombshell allegations that he left his wife for the Somali-born representative — accusing wife Beth Mynett in a counterclaim of waging a campaign to “ruin his career” after he left their unhappy marriage.

The DC political consultant, who has been working for Omar, denied accusations leveled by his physician wife in her divorce filing, that he was having a love affair with Omar and said he hadn’t been in a relationship with any other woman during their six-year marriage, according to the counterclaim filed in DC Superior Court.

“Since the time of Mr. Mynett’s departure from the marital home, Ms. Mynett began a negative campaign against Mr. Mynett, seemingly in an effort to ruin his career and permanently damage his relationship with William and his step-daughter,” read the court papers.

In her divorce filing, first published by The Post last Tuesday, Beth Mynett accused the 37-year-old congresswoman of stealing her husband.

But Mynett, 38, claims his wife, 55, pressured him into getting married in 2012 after the birth of their son William in 2006, and said the unhappy marriage broke down because of their different parenting styles.

Mynett also claimed his wife insisted on making expensive and unnecessary renovations to their Washington, DC, home — calling their union a “rollercoaster of highs and lows” with the pair on multiple occasions discussing separating and divorce.

“By April 2019, after months of unsuccessfully working to convince himself the marriage was salvagable, Mr. Mynett informed Ms. Mynett that he was unable to continue their marriage,” the court papers read, confirming their April 7 split.

“Mr. Mynett denies that he told Ms. Mynett he was leaving the marriage for Representative Ilhan Omar (“Rep. Omar”) or that he was in love with her.”

Mynett also denied that his work-related travel was related to a romantic relationship with Omar.

Omar’s campaign has paid Mynett’s E Street Group consulting firm $230,000 — including $70,000 since April 2019 — raising concerns of potential ethics violations.

In her divorce filing, Beth Mynett said her husband walked out after professing his love for the congresswoman and was unwilling to try to salvage their marriage.

“The parties physically separated on or about April 7, 2019, when Defendant told Plaintiff that he was romantically involved with and in love with another woman, Ilhan Omar,” the court papers said.

Omar, Tim Mynett and Beth Mynett have been contacted for comment.


India’s Congress Party Appoints Sonia Gandhi Interim Chief

India’s main opposition Congress party on Saturday appointed Sonia Gandhi to serve as interim president until it elects a new party chief. 
The party accepted the resignation of her son Rahul Gandhi, who quit in July after Congress’ crushing defeat in national elections. He continues to be a member of Parliament. 

A party working committee then asked Sonia Gandhi, 72, to take over in a stop-gap arrangement, party spokesman K.C. Venugopal said. 
Sonia Gandhi handed the top party post to her son in 2017 after she suffered health problems. The party has long been led by the politically powerful Nehru-Gandhi family. 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party won 303 out of 542 seats in the lower house of Parliament, while the Congress party won 52 seats in April-May elections. 
In January, Rahul Gandhi inducted his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into politics as a party general secretary months before the national elections. 
Several Congress leaders want Vadra, 47, to  succeed Rahul Gandhi as party president.  She has in the past helped her mother and brother campaign in their constituencies in northern Uttar Pradesh state. 
Rahul Gandhi’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, his grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and his great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, have all served as prime minister since India’s independence from British colonialists in 1947. 


‘For Article 370 move, personal calls to senior opposition leaders helped clinch majority vote’: Pralhad Joshi

Pralhad Joshi, the minister of parliamentary affairs, speaks in an interview with Sunetra Choudhury about the first session of Parliament in the second term of the Narendra Modi government, during which a record 30bills were passed. Joshi said floor coordination became crucial in pushing through the crucial provisions related to Jammu and Kashmir on the last two days of the session that ended on August 6. Edited excerpts:You had a productive Lok Sabha session with a record number of bills being passed. To what would you attribute that?

We tried to talk to all parties including the main opposition party. In some cases, they got convinced, in some they weren’t, like in the Triple Talaq and the RTI {Right to Information} bill. Other than the Congress and the TMC, a majority of the parties who had thought of opposing bills relented after we met and convinced them. like the BJD {Biju Janata Dal} and TRS {Telangana Rashtra Samithi}… It was PM’s direction to have “sabka vishwas” {everyone’s trust} and he used to guide me particularly, on a day-to-day basis. He would tell me, “Go meet Adhir {Ranjan Chowdhary of Congress},” “Go meet (TR) Baalu {of DMK}.” Even Amit Bhai {home minister Amit Shah} would speak to me about it.

Article 370’s effective revocation was the big highlight of the session. Was the session extended for this only?

This bill was brought on {August} 5th and 6th. There were so many bills like MV {motor vehicle} bill which was passed in the extended time… it was not just because of 370… Because of huge pendency, we were forced to extend.You said that the PM and Amit Bhai would brief you every day. What was your brief on Art 370?

I was told on 2nd August by Amit Bhai that an important bill was coming. We didn’t know what it was exactly. We were told, “You have to be prepared, we need to pass this, and we may introduce it in Rajya Sabha.” On the 2nd itself, we started talking to concerned people that important bills are coming… On the 5th morning (day the bill was introduced after a cabinet meeting), Amit bhai had a talk with BJD chief Naveen Patnaik and TRS chief K Chandrashekar Rao and even with Mr Chandrababu Naidu {of Telugu Desam Party}. They said we will support. I also had a chat with the BSP’s {Bahujan Samaj Party’s} Satish Chandra Mishra and he said we will support it.

Is it true that you had a war room ready in Parliament?

I can’t call it a war room but Amit Bhai used to call us to his room and tell us on a need-to-know basis and we used to work on that. Assignments were given to some ministers and they would accordingly act. We used to sit in his room.You started off by visiting all opposition leaders, even {United Progressive Alliance chairperson} Sonia Gandhi. Do you think the relationship is as amicable at the end of the session or bitter?

Except in one or two bills , it was amicable . You have seen 370 and Triple Talaq, they didn’t agree despite our efforts to convince them… We have a good rapport with Congress and TMC people. After the sine die( session’s end), we had a word with Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and Derek O’Brien and Ram Kripal Yadav and it was sober.But sir , wasn’t it a shortcut to not send bills to a select panel?

How many bills in their first session after winning did they send to select committee in their regime? They should answer that. Some bills, even after scrutiny, were not passed. Some bills, like surrogacy, we are sending to standing panel… Enactment of law is our duty and we are doing it in the most democratic way.

There is speculation that there won’t be a winter session of parliament because you have passed all bills?

There will be a session in winter, maybe in November. I am assuring you that it will be there. We have another 6-7 bills that remain. NID {National Institute of Design} bill, dam safety bill, and river water tribunal is there.What about the Leader of the opposition post going to the Congress?

They have not asked and we have not decided.


‘We will die for Kashmir’: says Amit Shah during Lok Sabha debate

The Lok Sabha witnessed some heated moments during a debate on the scrapping of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state with Home Minister Amit Shah saying, “We will die for Kashmir’.

Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sought a clarification from the Home minister asking, “S Jaishankar told Mike Pompeo a few days back that Kashmir is a bilateral matter, so don’t interfere in it. Can J&K still be an internal matter? We want to know. Entire Congress party wants to be enlightened by you.”

The Home Minister, who introduced the resolution for scrapping the Article that grants special status to the state and a bill to bifurcate the state, responded: “J&K is an inseparable part of India, this is in India’ s and Jammu and Kashmir’s Constitution. So, Parliament is fully entitled to legislate on the state.”

Follow updates: Parliament Live Updates: Jawaharlal Nehru forced Article 370 on India, says BJP

To this, opposition benches asked: “ So what about Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), what is your stand on that?” A visibly agitated Amit Shah said, “When I say J&K, I mean whole of PoK and Aksai Chin region… don’t you consider PoK as India’s part. On This Chowdhury asked, “ Why are you getting aggressive?” The Home Minister retorted: “ I will get aggressive, we will die for Kashmir.”

The Lok Sabha is debating the resolution and the bill a day after the Rajya Sabha passed both on the day they were introduced by the Home Minister.

Article 370 revoked I Analysis I How Modi, Shah and Doval orchestrated move

On Monday, home minister Amit Shah moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to abolish Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and a bill bifurcate the state into two union territories- Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The resolution was passed by voice vote and the bill by 125 to 61 votes in the 239-member house, a two-thirds majority.

People in Kashmir were worried after the Centre’s move with political leaders such as Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah under arrest and the valley remaining Valley mostly incommunicado with no mobile or internet connectivity.

During the debate in Rajya Sabha, Amit Shah ensured the people that “nothing will happen”. He said full statehood will be restored to Jammu and Kashmir at an “appropriate time” after the return of normalcy. “It was heaven on earth and will remain so,” Shah said.


‘Worked like a slave for Congress for 14 months’: HD Kumaraswamy

JD(S) leader HD Kumaraswamy has said he worked like a “slave” for its coalition partner Congress during the 14-month tenure of his government in Karnataka but his work was not appreciated by anyone.

The Kumaraswamy led Congress-Janata Dal(Secular) coalition government collapsed when it lost the trust vote on July 23. The trust vote was forced after 16 coalition MLAs rebelled and tendered their resignations. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s BS Yediyurappa was sworn-in as the 25th chief minister of Karnataka on July 26.

“I had given full freedom to all the MLAs, and even corporation chairmen. For the last 14 months, I worked like a slave for these MLAs and our coalition partner (Congress). Why they are blaming me? I don’t know,” Kumaraswamy said, according to news agency Asian News International.

“I’m the happiest person now after vacating the office as a chief minister. For 14 months, I worked for the development of the state, there is a little pain in my heart because nobody appreciated my work,” he said while speaking to ANI.

The JD(S) leader said that several Congress leaders didn’t want to form the coalition government.

“After the fractured verdict in our state, the Congress leadership wholeheartedly wanted to join hands with JD(S) and they wanted to form the government. But some local leaders were not interested according to my sources,” Kumaraswamy said.

“From day one, the way a section of the Congress leaders behaved and reacted in the public, everybody knows it,” he added.

Kumaraswamy said that his party leaders were also unhappy after he joined hands with the Congress to form the government.

“Even some of my party leaders were not happy, but I formed the government with the help of Congress. They were not happy with the system. They knew how will they going to backstab us,” he said.

The former chief minister also said that his government had allocated more money for the constituencies of Congress MLAs than those of his own party.

“Even when MLAs used to come without taking an appointment, I met them. Whatever requests they had for the development of their constituencies, I took decisions on them immediately,” he said.

“What the previous Congress government couldn’t achieve, I did in 14 months. I have allocated more than Rs 19,000 crore in 14 months to constituencies of Congress MLAs,” the JD(S) leader said.

Kumaraswamy said that his party’s leaders are not interested in forming a coalition with Congress in the future.

“Majority of the workers are not interested in the coalition. But the Congress high command even now is very much cooperative with us. Let us see what is going to happen in the future,” he said.


Comey urges Trump to take a stand against racism after mass shootings

Former FBI Director and vocal Trump critic James Comey on Sunday called on President Trump to take a public stand against racism in a new op-ed, accusing him of stirring up racism for “political benefit.”

“America has long had a radioactive racist soup in the center of our national life. Donald Trump thinks he is stirring it for political benefit,” Comey wrote in The New York Times. “He’s actually doing something more dangerous.”

Comey alleged that the gunman who killed 20 people in a shooting in El Paso, Texas, on Saturday was inspired by Trump’s comments on Hispanic immigrants. The shooter wrote a manifesto that was reportedly posted online filled with racist comments about Hispanic immigrants.

“According to a ‘manifesto’ widely attributed to him, the Texas terrorist who killed at least 20 people in El Paso on Saturday wasn’t directly motivated by Donald Trump. But he is a horrific example of what can happen when the control rods are lifted,” Comey said.

“Every American president, knowing what lies deep within our country, bears a unique responsibility to say loudly and consistently that white supremacy is illegitimate, that encouraging a politics of racial resentment can spawn violence, and that violence aimed at people by virtue of their skin color is terrorism,” he continued.

Comey also criticized Trump for comments that critics have alleged are racist. Comey pointed to U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who Trump attacked for his Mexican heritage; his comments about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem and his attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color among other incidents. 

“With each racist assault — on a judge, an athlete, a country, a member of Congress, or a city — and with each kind word for ‘very fine people on both sides,’ our president allows the stew to boil and radiate more dangerously,” Comey said.

Comey also said Trump “owes” the American people more than “condolences sent via Twitter.” Trump tweeted that the shooting in El Paso was “tragic” and “an act of cowardice” Saturday, and he ordered flags at federal government buildings to be lowered to half-staff in honor of the victims of the shooting in El Paso and the Sunday shooting in Dayton, Ohio.

“You hold the biggest control rod of all. You must push it back into place, for all our sakes. The vast majority of Americans believe the core ideals of our founding documents and we expect our culture to reflect those ideals. Show us you believe in them, too,” Comey said.

Late last month, Trump was criticized for his comments attacking Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who represents parts of Baltimore. Trump called Cummings’s district “a a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” — comments that were widely decried as racist.

Trump also drew ire last month for his attacks on “the Squad,” a group of four minority congresswomen: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). The president repeatedly told the progressive congresswomen to “go back” to where they came from, comments that were also criticized as racist and xenophobic. At a campaign rally in North Carolina, a crowd also chanted “send her back” as Trump attacked Omar, who is Somali-American. 


Congress slams BJP silence on Unnao

The Congress on Thursday questioned the BJP leadership’s sincerity towards women’s empowerment, pointing to the silence of top ministers on the Unnao horror, and argued that the recently passed triple talaq bill was hardly proof of the government’s commitment to gender justice.

The party alleged the conspiracy of silence was aimed at protecting the criminals who were determined to finish off the Unnao rape victim and her family and said the vicious cycle of injustice and inaction would have continued had the Supreme Court not intervened.

The court on Thursday directed the transfer of all cases registered in connection with the Unnao rape from a court in Uttar Pradesh to a court in the national capital.

The Congress hailed the court’s decision. “Grateful to the Supreme Court for taking cognisance of the ‘Jungle Raj’ being unleashed in Uttar Pradesh,” party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said. “Meanwhile, the BJP finally acknowledges having empowered a criminal and takes some action to correct itself and move in the direction of justice for a young woman who has suffered immeasurably.”

The Congress held demonstrations in Lucknow for two days following a directive from Priyanka.

Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev ripped into the BJP at a media interaction. “The Prime Minister presents the defence minister (Nirmala Sitharaman) as a symbol of women’s empowerment. The BJP’s women MPs and top ministers describe the triple talaq bill as proof of gender justice. Smriti Irani sent bangles to (then Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh when the (2012) Nirbhaya (gang-rape and murder) case happened. But the entire ‘beti-bachao’ gang falls silent on the unprecedented atrocities on the Unnao girl. The Prime Minister, BJP chief Amit Shah and (Uttar Pradesh) chief minister Yogi Adityanath stood by the rape accused for two years,” Sushmita said.

“What would have happened had the Supreme Court not intervened? The local MP, Sakshi Maharaj, goes to the jail to meet the rape-accused (MLA) Kuldeep Sengar. For two years, the family members of the girls have been lodging complaints about threats…. The father of the girl was killed and now the aunts have gone. The girl is fighting for her life. The family has been tortured; even an eight-year-old boy (a cousin) is facing a theft case. You can understand how the accused got political patronage and what the family went through.”

Sengar, accused of raping the Unnao teen in 2017, has been charged with murder over Sunday’s road collision that left the victim seriously injured and two of her aunts dead.

The MLA, whom Unnao BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj had met in jail to thank him for his support in the parliamentary elections, was suspended from the BJP on Tuesday.

Congress communications chief Randeep Surjewala said the “chain of events suggest the Yogi government was directly responsible”.

“Witnesses are threatened and killed even as the CBI looked into the case. It is ironical that the security provided to the girl vanished on the day of the accident,” he said.

None of the security personnel assigned to guard the family were with the victim and her relatives on Sunday.

Sushmita hailed the Supreme Court order. “We thank the Chief Justice of India for ordering a time-bound probe and shifting of the case to Delhi. The order to provide CRPF security to the family and a compensation of Rs 25 lakh are also welcome. But the issue is why the family lived in fear and suffered for so long under the state government? Why does the BJP government indulge in selective outrage on the question of women’s safety?”

The party’s official Twitter handle put out a series of critical messages, saying: “The delay in his (Sengar’s) expulsion led to further deaths. This is reflective of the state of lawlessness in Uttar Pradesh. Ajay Bisht (Yogi Adityanath) must take responsibility for this and resign immediately. The expulsion of Kuldeep Sengar is a victory of the people’s campaign against the BJP…. The move is however too little too late.”