National Herald case: Congress, BJP trade barbs as ED summons Sonia and Rahul

Updated on Jun 02, 2022 04:19 AM IST
While Sonia Gandhi has been asked to appear before ED on June 8, Rahul was asked to appear on Thursday, according to a summons received on May 30 over the National Herald case.
The Gandhis had secured separate bails from the court in the case in 2015 in the National Herald case (PTI FILE)
The Gandhis had secured separate bails from the court in the case in 2015 in the National Herald case (PTI FILE)
By, New Delhi

The Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) summons to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and MP Rahul Gandhi for questioning in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper sparked an intense war of words between the opposition party and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with the former calling it a “political ploy” and the latter questioning their reluctance in deposing before the federal agency.

While Sonia Gandhi has been asked to appear before ED on June 8, Rahul was asked to appear on Thursday, according to a summons received on May 30. Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Abhishek Singhvi announced Sonia that will go to the ED office on the scheduled date but indicated that the party would seek time for Rahul after June 5 since he is out of the country.

Singhvi alleged that ED had earlier closed the case, but new officials were brought into the agency to revive mater.

“Friends, this is a part of a larger disease. A disease, which will consume the ruling party ultimately. The disease is one of attacking every political party purely on vendetta terms from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Farooq Abdullah to DMK functionaries, from Gujarat to West Bengal, from Mevani to Mamata Banerjee and the family of Mamata Banerjee. The BJP has brought or tried to bring malafide every political opponent under the net of puppet agencies like ED, CBI, IT etc,” Singh said on Twitter.

BJP’s national President JP Nadda, rejected the Congress stand. “Have you ever seen a criminal say I’m criminal? They’ll of course deny it. Documents are proof. If charge sheet is filed, you’d approach court to get it quashed, but they sought bail. It means they’re guilty,” he tweeted.

The Gandhis had secured separate bails from the court in the case in 2015.

The matter originated in a complaint filed by former BJP MP Subrmanian Swamy, who in 2012 alleged that the Gandhis misappropriated funds as proprietors of a company named Young India Private Limited, which eventually took control of Associated Journals Limited, the erstwhile publisher of National Herald. The allegation says the Congress had loaned 90.25 crore to AJL, which the latter could not pay.

Young India Limited, with a paid-up capital of 50 lakh, took over AJL in order for it to be able to meet its debt obligation, Swamy alleged. The ED and the Income Tax department opened investigations into the case after the BJP took over in 2014. In 2015, the Gandhis moved court and obtained bails.The Congress and the Gandhis have denied any wrongdoing.

While Singhvi described ED as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “favourite and pet weapon”, Surjewala claimed the summons were issued to mislead the country and divert attention from issues such as rising inflation. He also spoke of the National Herald’s rich history during the independence movement, Andaman & Nicobar Islands quipped, that “In 1942, the British tried to suppress it, today Modi government is also doing the same and ED is being used for this”.

Speaking about the allegations, Singhvi said that AJL did “what every company in India does, what every company abroad does, what is known as a basics of cooperate activity, it converted its debt into equity”. He contended that since AJL faced financial problems over the years, the Congress party stepped in, and gave 90 crore as financial support over the years.

The debt of 90 crores was assigned to a new company, Young Indian, making the books of AJL debt free, he said, adding that Young Indian has special provisions as a not-for-profit company, and not a penny can be taken out of it.

Union minister Anurag Thakur, when asked about the Congress’s allegations during an unrelated press briefing on Wednesday, said it was only “government agencies doing their job.”

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Monday, August 15, 2022
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