NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi’s tryst with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is far from over. After being questioned for nine hours on Monday, the financial probe agency asked the Gandhi scion to appear before it again on Tuesday at 11 am.
Rahul Gandhi was quizzed by ED in connection with the National Herald case. He was first asked to appear before the agency on June 2. But it was set for today (June 13) as Rahul Gandhi was abroad.
Amid massive protest from Congressmen, Rahul Gandhi walked to the ED office from the party headquarters with several senior party leaders in tow. Hundreds of party workers also joined their leaders in the solidarity march.
A team of three ED officials, including a woman officer, questioned Rahul Gandhi in connection with the case at 11 in the morning on Tuesday. He was questioned till 10.30 pm during which he was given one hour for lunch.
During the lunch break, Rahul Gandhi went to his home at Tughlaq Lane. He and his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra went to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, where their mother Sonia Gandhi has been admitted since Sunday. The former Congress president then returned to the ED headquarters for the next round of questioning at around 3.30 pm.
The probe in the National Herald corruption case – linked to the Congress and the Gandhi family – has been going on for years.
The National Herald was started by former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and was published by the Associated Journal Limited (AJL). In 2010, AJL was taken over by a newly-floated company called Young Indian Private Limited (YIL) with Rahul Gandhi as one of its directors and Gandhi family loyalists Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda as directors.
BJP’s Subramanian Swamy claimed that YIL “took over” the assets of the defunct print media outlet in a “malicious” manner to gain profit and assets worth over Rs 2,000 crore.
Swamy also alleged that YIL had paid Rs 50 lakh to obtain the rights to recover Rs 90.25 crore which AJL owed the Congress party. The amount was given as a loan to start the newspaper. He also alleged that the loan given to AJL was “illegal”, as it had been taken from party funds.
In 2014, the ED initiated a probe to see if there was any money laundering in the case. On September 18, 2015, the case was reopened by the ED.
It is pertinent to note that in 2020, the ED had attached one of the most prime properties in Mumbai’s Bandra under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The said property, with market value to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees, was illegally allotted to AJL.
Seven accused in the case – veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora, AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda, YI and the Gandhis – have all denied accusations against them.
Earlier this year in April, the ED questioned senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal.