New Delhi, June 1 (UNI) The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi in connection with the National Herald case, sources said on Wednesday.
Sonia Gandhi has been asked to appear before the ED on June 8 while Rahul Gandhi is said to have been asked to appear on June 2. The ED was informed that Rahul Gandhi is not in the country till June 5, and a fresh date of summon will be issued to him, said sources.
This is the first time summons have been issued to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi by ED in this case.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, along with Chief Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala held a press conference announcing that the two leaders have been summoned, and called it ‘political vendetta’.
BJP leaders meanwhile refuted the charge.
Asked about the case, BJP President JP Nadda said, “a criminal never says they are guilty.”
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Anurag Thakur also dismissed the charge and said, “government agencies do their work”.
Congress meanwhile said the notice came “recently”, adding that the Congress President will go for the questioning.
“If Rahul ji is in the country he will also go, we do not know the details right now.” Singhvi said.
Surjewala said the Indian National Congress paid Rs 90 crore to Associated Journals Ltd., the company that runs the National Herald newspaper established in 1937, to pay its dues by cheque over a period of about 10 years and in about 100 installments. He said out of this, an amount Rs 67 crore was used by National Herald to pay the dues of its employees and the rest was spent on electricity payment, rent, building etc.
He said since the National Herald newspaper was not able to repay the debt, shares of Associated Journals Ltd. were given to “Young India” in lieu of it.
Young India has Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and late Motilal Vohra in its Managing Committee.
Singhvi said there was no money or money laundering involved in the case, and questioned why it was being reopened seven years after the probe was shut.
As per the complaint filed in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate, Associated Journals Limited (AJL) took an interest-free loan of Rs 90.25 crore from Indian National Congress, which was not paid back.
A closely held company, Young India, was incorporated in November 2010 with a capital of Rs 50 lakh, and acquired almost all the shareholding of AJL and its properties.
Singhvi said the AJL was given a loan by the Congress as it was facing financial problems.
“AJL did what every company in India does, what is known as basic corporate activity, it converted its debt into equity. This debt was assigned to Young India so that books of AJL became debt free.”
“Young India was a newly created company… A first year law student will tell you there is no transfer of property. Where is the money laundering? There is no money, no transfer of property, yet a charge of money laundering is made,” he said.
Congress accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to use agencies to target political opponents.
“This is 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,” said Singhvi.
“From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Farrukh Abdullah to DMK functionaries, Gujarat to West Bengal, Mevani to Mamata Banerjee and the family of Mamata Banerjee…”
“The BJP has brought or tried to bring every political opponent under the net of puppet agencies like CBI, ED etc…. We will face them, we are not a bit scared or intimidated,” he added.