Amid the row over the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing the alleged role of top Congress leaders in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday said the Gandhi family’s track record is corrupt and three of its members are out on bail.
Addressing a press conference here, BJP national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia raised five legal points regarding the National Herald case.
“Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are out on bail on charges of corruption and even after being accused, they are in public life. If someone is accused, then the law of our country says that he or she will also be interrogated like the common people. The way Rahul Gandhi and Congress are behaving is not good. The way the investigating agency is being intimidated is also not fair. Why should ED go to Sonai Gandhi’s residence to talk to her? PM Modi has ended the VVIP culture. They should remember, that they got bail in the lower court in which they are considered accused.”
“Is it not true that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi hold 38 per cent shareholding each in Young Indian? It means both of them to hold 76 per cent stake in Young India and the law says that if you are controlling more than 50 per cent stake then whatever decision is taken is done by the majority shareholder. Now, when the controlling stake belongs to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, then the blame should not be put on such a person who is not in this world today. So who did the money laundering and the scam?” stated the BJP spokesperson.
Bhatia said a company called Dotex gave a loan of Rs 1 crore to Young India that did not have Rs 1 as an asset and its value was zero. He alleged that assets worth Rs 2,000 crore of AJL were transferred to Young Indian.
“Rahul Gandhi did not spend a single penny from his pocket but became the owner of assets worth Rs 2,000 crore. If Rahul Gandhi has the courage, then he should answer. Why did the Gandhi family loot the country? The Gandhi family’s track record is corrupt. Three members of the family Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Robert Vadra are out on bail,” Bhatia said.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday termed the sealing of the Young Indian office at the Herald House building in the national capital as an “intimidation attempt” by the ruling BJP and asserted that he is “not scared” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s suppressive government. Speaking to the reporters here, the Wayanad MP said, “You are talking about National Herald, it is an intimidation attempt.
They think they will be able to silence us with a little pressure. We will not be intimidated. We are not scared of Narendra Modi. They can do whatever they want.” On Wednesday, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) sealed the Young Indian office at the Herald House building in the national capital.
The central agency sealed the Young Indian office at the Herald House building in Delhi as no one was available in the office during the search and thus they were not able to complete the search.
The order put outside the Young Indian office read that the “premises not be opened without prior permission” from the agency.
ED took action a day after it carried out raids at 12 locations in the national capital and at other places in connection with the National Herald case in which top Congress leaders are accused of violating norms.
“Delhi Police blocking the road to AICC Headquarters has become a norm rather than an exception! Why have they just done so is mysterious,” senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said.
The National Herald case pertained to the alleged financial irregularities under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and was registered about nine months ago after a trial court took cognisance of an Income Tax department probe carried out on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by former BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
The petitioner had approached the court alleging that the assets of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which published the National Herald newspaper, were fraudulently acquired and transferred to Young Indian Pvt Limited (YIL), in which Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi owned 38 per cent shares each.
Swamy had alleged that the Gandhis cheated and misappropriated funds, with YIL paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that AJL owed to Congress.
The raids were conducted days after the investigative agency questioned Congress interim-president Sonia Gandhi for nearly three hours on July 27. It was the third round of questioning of the senior leader in the case.
Following the summoning of Sonia Gandhi by the ED, Congress workers and leaders staged protests in various parts of the country alleging misuse of probe agencies by the government.
Sonia Gandhi was questioned by ED on July 26 also. She had reached the ED office accompanied by her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Officials said on that day, the party president’s response was sought to around 30 questions regarding her involvement with the National Herald newspaper and Young Indian Pvt Ltd.
During her questioning, the Lok Sabha MP from Rae Bareli was asked about the functioning and running of the newspaper, and the role of its various office bearers. Prior to that, she was also questioned by ED on July 21.
Further, in June this year, the ED questioned Rahul Gandhi for five days. Rahul Gandhi was questioned by the ED for over 27 hours for three straight days from June 13 to June 15 and was again summoned on June 20. On June 20, he was questioned for around 14 hours.
The Congress leader was deposed before the ED investigators in the case for the first time on June 13. He initially sought an exemption from appearance on June 16, following which he was called on June 17.
But the senior Congress leader wrote to the ED to postpone his questioning citing the illness of his mother Sonia Gandhi. The ED then allowed him to join the probe on June 20 at his request.