New Delhi : Police wireless constantly buzzed, new layers of security came up every minute and an expectant crowd gathered in front of the Patiala House courts complex on Saturday, the seat of action in the high-profile National Herald case, throwing traffic in Central Delhi out of gear. The running commentary of the huge posse of media persons, covering the court appearances of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, accused in the case, reached a crescendo as the mother-son duo reached at around 2.45 pm. Sonia and Rahul stepped down from their car few yards away from the entrance to the court premises and walked the remaining distance.
As the media hankered for a byte from them, a faint smile played across the Congress vice president’s face. Much before their arrival, occasional murmurs that ‘they’ had reached made the rounds every few minutes, throwing the battery of reporters into a tizzy. Complainant BJP leader Subramanian Swamy was the first to arrive who drove past the gates of the court complex around 2.15 pm. Within minutes, Congress’ counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi arrived with Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel, followed by another lawyer Kapil Sibal.
Around 2.30 pm, Priyanka Vadra accompanied by a host of Congress heavyweights including Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Sheila Dikshit, Ambika Soni arrived and deboarded their vehicles few metres away from the court premises. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s cavalcade zoomed past the crowd, comprising media and a handful of Congress workers, soon after. All of them made their way out in a similar fashion as Sonia and Rahul got bail in the case after the court rejected Swamy’s opposition to the relief for them on the ground they are influential and can flee the country.
Meanwhile, vehicles moved at a snail’s pace due to the intense security restrictions. Police had a tough time warding off onlookers who stalled the traffic movement in their bid to capture the activities in front of the court. Former Delhi Chief Minister Dikshit said the turnout of the top party leadership in the court should not be seen as a “show of strength” while Rajeev Shukla said “respecting” the court, only limited people had come. “We are concerned and worried and with the leadership, that’s all. There’s no show per se. The party has been saying that it will fight the case legally. Let’s see, at the moment it’s a legal battle,” Dikshit said.