INDIA. Mumbai: In protest against Congressman Rahul Gandhi being questioned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the National Herald money laundering case for the third straight day on Thursday, thousands of party members from the Congress party from 24 districts across the nation marched to their respective Raj Bhavans.
Massive demonstrations against the “death of democracy by the Modi Government” were spearheaded in Mumbai by Bhai Jagtap, the president of the Mumbai Congress and MLA, Vice President Charan Singh Sapra, and other top officials.
At Hanging Garden, the leaders and party members were stopped and prevented from travelling to the Maharashtra Raj Bhavan in Walkeshwar, South Mumbai. Police collected up some of the leaders, including Jagtap and Sapra, and tossed them into a vehicle.
The Associated Journal Limited (AJL) was set up by Jawaharlal Nehru along with other
freedom fighters in 1937 to have its mouthpiece the “National Herald” during the freedom struggle.
They had contributed nearly Rs 2000 crore and all of them were shareholders of the AJL. AJL also published two other newspapers-Qaumi Awaz in Urdu and Navjeevan in Hindi until 2008.
After the AJL was wound up with Rs 90 crore liabilities and Rs 2000 crore assets, in 2010, Rahul Gandhi floated a company-“Young Indian” with 76 percent shares held by Sonia Gandhi and himself. The remaining 24% shares were held by Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes.
Later the Young Indian paid Rs 50 lakh to the Congress which wrote off the balance of Rs 89.50 crore liabilities. As such the AJL holdings were transferred to Young Indian in 2011. Thus the “Young Indian” effectively became the owner of a Rs 2000 crore property by paying just Rs 50 lakh to AJL.
Some of the shareholders, including former law minister Shanti Bhushan and former chief justice of Allahabad and Madras High Courts Markandey Katju, alleged that they were not informed about the “Young Indian“ taking over AJL and that the shares held by their fathers were transferred to AJL in 2010 without their consent.
In November 2012 BJP leader Subramanian Swamy filed a criminal complaint alleging a land grab by Gandhis in Delhi High Court. After a long legal battle, the ED reopened the investigation in 2015.
In February 2016 the Supreme Court refused to quash proceedings against the accused in the case. Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey, and technocrat Sam Pitroda have been named in the case filed by Swamy.
While Rahul Gandhi is still being questioned by ED, the agency has summoned the Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi for questioning on June 23.
Clarification by Congress
However, Congress has refuted the allegation that it is a money laundering case. In a statement, Congress said that the National Herald case, is not a money-laundering scam – Congress extended Rs.90 crore to help National Herald with salaries & VRS of employees and other Govt. dues.
“Young Indian” is a NOT-FOR-PROFIT company whose Managing Committee members (Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi) are prohibited by law from getting any dividend, profit, salary, or any other financial benefit. Not Rs.2000 crore, not Rs.200 crore, not even Rs.20 crore or Rs.2 crore, NOT EVEN One RUPEE has been transferred to the accounts of Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi.
All income and all properties of the National Herald continue to remain the exclusive property of its parent company Associated Journals.
Even if ‘Young Indian’ is closed, all proceeds thereof can only go to another ‘Not-For-Profit’ company. “Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi will get absolutely no financial benefit,” the statement added.