In November 2012, Subramanian Swamy targeted Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi raising questions over acquisition of a company that published the now-defunct National Herald newspaper to which Congress gave a loan of over Rs. 90 crore. He alleged Sonia and Rahul had floated a Section 25 company called ‘Young Indian’ each with a shareholding of 38 per cent, which acquired Associated Journals, founded by late Jawaharlal Nehru, that published the National Herald and Quami Awaz. Swamy said Associated Journals obtained an unsecured loan of over Rs. 90 crore from AICC which he claimed was illegal under Income Tax Act because a political party cannot give loans for commercial purposes.
Finally, after two years, when Modi ‘Raj’ came in 2014, a Delhi court has summoned Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders as accused in National Herald newspaper case filed on charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating. Other senior leaders summoned include Motilal Vohra, Oscar Fernandes and Sam Pitroda. They have been asked to be present in the court on August 07. Former journalist Suman Dubey, who is close to the Gandhi family, was also summoned by the court.
The National Herald newspaper was established in 1938 by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Rahul Gandhi is Nehru’s great grandson. The newspaper was shut down in 2008. Real value of assets of AJPL allegedly between Rs. 1,000 – 1,600 crore are many times more than its book value because land was given to AJPL (being newspaper publishing company) at very nominal rate by Government and building was constructed mainly out of contribution from public. AJPL cannot be sold to ‘Young Indian’ because, AJPL cannot transfer burden of Rs. 90 crore loan from AICC to ‘Young Indian’ without AICC approval. If AICC approval is there then it is illegal because this is tantamount giving loan by AICC to ‘Young Indian’ which is not a newspaper publishing company. It is tantamount allowing ‘Young Indian’ to acquire assets of Rs. 1,000 – 1600 Crore with Rs. 50 Lakhs only and because AICC, AJPL and ‘Young Indian’ all the three are owned / controlled by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, hence this AICC loan and selling of AJPL to ‘Young Indian’ tantamount to something like inside trading as was done in USA by Rajat Gupta for which he has gone to jail for 2 years. It is becoming very difficult for common man to meet both ends despite hard work. However, political parties collect huge money from public, corporates and spend as they wish with utter irresponsibility. Is this the great establishment called ‘Democracy’ which we have inherited from the British?
Gandhi’s office threatened legal action against Dr. Swamy for accusing Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son of illegally purchasing Associated Journals to gain ownership over the land it held across the country. Less than a day later, at the official Congress briefing, the party challenged Swamy to prove his allegations in a court of law. Meanwhile, Young Indian, according to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website, was formed on November 23, 2010 and registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. It lists its address as 5A, Herald House, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi, the office of the now defunct National Herald. While Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Rahul Gandhi hold 76 per cent stake in the new venture, the remaining shares are owned by Congress treasurer Motilal Vora, who is also the chairman-cum-managing director of Associated Journals Limited, and party general secretary Oscar Fernandes. Veteran journalist Suman Dubey has been designated as managing committee member in the company, while National Knowledge Commission Chairman Sam Pitroda too is a member. Meanwhile, documents filed by the Registrar of Companies point out that Young Indian is “engaged in activities to inculcate in the mind of India’s youth commitment to the ideal of a democratic and secular society and provides for application of its profits or income in pursuit thereof.” Starting from the 2G scam, the Central Government has faced a multiple crore scams and there are chances that new government may have brought others scams to surface of old government. However, what will be end result, don’t know. The 2G scam seems to have already died a natural death. Courts are silent, the prosecutors are silent, the opposition is silent and the accused have been resurrected and even rewarded by the Congress Government. In the same manner, the Commonwealth Games scam, Robert Vadra issue, Salman Khurshid’s mini scam, Gadkari’s Purti scam, Maharashtra’s irrigation scams, will also be buried by the joint efforts of the accused and those in the Government and Law enforcing agencies. Politicians and officers’ nexus will continue and with that looting the common man also will continue. It will be business as usual for everyone.
In Lucknow, where the National Herald was started, along with Qaumi Awaz in Urdu and a sister journal in Hindi, they took over a fine old building in a most prime area called Qaisar Bagh. They grounded the Hindi and Urdu papers, using their newsprint quotas for financial gain. The bosses were more interested in the real estate rather than increasing the business of the house. It is important to focus on the issue and not to make noise.
We need democracy and accountability in our political parties. When tax exemptions are provided, public lands are allotted at a pittance; the political parties cannot claim that they are not accountable to the people. It is high time that a periodic democratic election supervised by the Election Commission is made mandatory for all office bearers in political parties. Their accounts details must be filed with the election commission every quarter and audited by the CAG. Political parties must be ceased from the few individuals to the hardworking cadre.