The political row over defunct National Herald escalated Saturday with Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy urging the Election Commission to de-recognize the Congress for providing an interest-free loan to publisher Associated Journals Ltd and the party saying reviving the newspaper was an emotional issue for it.
Both the BJP and India Against Corruption leader Arvind Kejriwal demanded a probe into the issue.
A day after the Congress admitted it gave the loan Swamy's petition to the poll panel said, "This loan is in violation of the guidelines and rules that has to be mandatorily followed by political parties for registration as well as recognition. Section 29A to C of the RPA (1951) and Section 13A of IT Act (1961) do not make any provision for a political party to extend loans to companies, with or without interest."
"The Congress party has prima facie committed an offence under the electoral law as well as the Income-Tax law for which it is necessary for you to hold hearings," Swamy's petition said.
"The Election Commission therefore must decide under Paragraph 16A of the said Symbol Order to de-recognize the All India Congress Party," it said.
Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi hit back, saying reviving the National Herald, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, was an emotional issue for it and no commercial profit accrued to the party from the loan.
"The Congress has done its duty in supporting The Associated Journals Ltd to help initiate a process to bring the newspaper back to health," Dwivedi said.
The BJP demanded an enquiry.
"The BJP clearly demands an inquiry into the matter, and demands that the Congress face the truth and answer questions, rather than running away for the ninth or tenth time on major critical issues of corruption," said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.
"The issue needs to be probed," said Kejriwal.
Swamy Thursday alleged 'wrongdoing' by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi which he said had led to the takeover of the Herald House in Delhi.