The Congress party said on Wednesday it will revive the National Herald and Navjivan newspapers and appointed senior journalist Neelabh Mishra as their editor-in-chief nearly eight years after the publications were pulled out of circulation .
All India Congress Committee (AICC) treasurer Motilal Vora, who is also the chairperson of Associated Journals Limited (AJL) that runs the newspapers, made the announcement.
Mishra, a former editor of Outlook Hindi magazine and a columnist, has been actively involved in Right to Information campaign and civil liberties movements.
Both the newspapers - National Herald in English and Navjeevan in Hindi - will resume publication in the “coming months” followed by Urdu newspaper Qaumi Awaz, a Congress statement said. Sources said the plan is to go digital first and then print them.
The relaunch of the newspapers comes ahead of assembly elections in several states early next year. They were closed in 2008 due to financial crunch.
National Herald, which was founded at Lucknow in 1938 by freedom-fighter Jawaharlal Nehru, who later became the country’s first prime minister, was banned by the British during the 1942 Quit India movement. It faced brief shutdowns in the 1940s and 70s.
AJL owns a number of properties across the country, including the Herald House in the national capital from where the papers were last published. While two floors of the multi-storey building on arterial Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg have been leased out to the Regional Passport Office, the rest of it houses AJL and Young Indian Private Limited (YIL) that have functional offices.
The place was recently readied for publishing the papers and applications have been sought for filling the vacancies.
AJL, along with its assets and liabilities that included a Rs 90-crore loan from the Congress, was taken over in 2010 by YIL – a Section 25 company (which is akin to a trust) in which Congress president and Rahul hold 38% equity each.
Vora, party leader Oscar Fernandes, technocrat Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey, a schoolmate of late PM Rajiv Gandhi, are also the stakeholders.
In 2012, Swamy accused the Gandhis and Vora, Fernandes, Dubey and Pitroda of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by just paying Rs 50 lakh by which Young Indian Private Ltd obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that the AJL owed the Congress.
On her part, Sonia told the court in July last year that the move was aimed at reviving the publications.
Sonia and Rahul, who appeared before a trial court in connection with the case, were granted unconditional bail in December last year. They were asked to furnish a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and a surety of the same amount respectively.
On Saturday, a Delhi court asked Sonia and Rahul to respond to a fresh plea of Swamy seeking certain documents from the party and AJL within two weeks in the National Herald case.