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Sonia Gandhi alleges political witch-hunt in National Herald controversy, Swamy rejects BJP role in case

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday confirmed that her party has been served notices by the Income Tax department in a case that alleges she and other party leaders misappropriated funds of a company that used to publish the now-defunct National Herald newspaper.

Talking to a news channel, Gandhi cited political vindictiveness as the reason behind the notices.

“This kind of political witch-hunt will only help us and help us to come back faster,” Gandhi told the channel.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy, on whose complaint the summon was issued, said, “The BJP is not in the picture and there is no vindictiveness”.

“This is a private complaint. Maybe, I should educate Sonia Gandhi about law,” added Swamy.

The BJP, however, denied Sonia Gandhi’s charge.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the BJP is not into vindictive politics or else Congress would have no place to hide.

Last month, a court here had issued summons to Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi in the case.

In response to a private complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy, Metropolitan Magistrate Gomati Manocha had said: “I have found prima facie evidence against all the accused.”

The court had directed them to appear before it on August 07.

The summons were also served on Young India.

The Congress called it “a motivated complaint”. “The allegations are baseless,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

A party statement added: “All the people named in the National Herald matter will seek legal advice and do the needful.”

Apart from the Gandhis, the court had also summoned Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes, Sam Pitroda, who was an advisor to former prime minister Manmohan Singh, and former journalist Suman Dubey, who is close to the Gandhi family.

The complaint alleged that the Gandhis formed a company, Young India, in 2010 with 38 percent share each to take control of Rs 2,000 crore worth of assets of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), which published the National Herald.

The National Herald was started in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru. Over the decades, it lost circulation and ran into major financial losses, leading to its closure in 2008.

Young India thus acquired the complete ownership of AJL real estate assets of at least Rs 2,000 crore, including a multi-storeyed building in a prime location in Delhi.

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