NEW DELHI: The Congress lambasted the BJP-led central government over the summons issued to party chief Sonia Gandhi and former president Rahul Gandhi in connection with the National Herald money laundering case by the Enforcement Directorate saying it will not be “intimidated” by such cheap and vendetta politics.
Addressing a press conference here at the party headquarters, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi along with Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the ruling BJP of misusing the investigative agencies against the political opponents.
The fierce reaction from Congress came after the ED issued summons to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to appear before it on June 8 in connection with the National Herald case.
This is for the first time that the Gandhi family has been issued summons by the financial probe agency in connection with the case.
Speaking to the media, Singhvi, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP from West Bengal said, “The fake issue of AJL is an attempt by the BJP’s propaganda machinery to deviate, diverge and digress the attention of citizens from the multi feracious issues of inflation, falling GDP and social unrest, social divisiveness in the country.”
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He said that by targeting National Herald every now and then, the BJP has in fact has “digressed, dishonoured, disrespected the freedom fighters, the stalwarts of this nation and their contribution to the freedom struggle” where, incidentally, this particular party (BJP) and its predecessors has no role to play.
The Congress leader said, “This is truly a very weird case, a money laundering case in which summons are issued in which no money is involved. I have yet to hear of this absolute acrobatic imagination of creating summons in respect of money laundering where no money is involved.”
Presenting the party’s view on the National Herald controversy, Singhvi said that there is a company called Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which is a several decade-old company that carried the flag of the National Herald.
Over the years it was there to project the thought process and set of values but commercially could not succeed, he said.
“Therefore AJL has had a lot of financial problems over decades. Ultimately, the Congress which believes in those values stepped in and gave in Rs 90 crore as financial support at different times. So AJL became an indebted company,” Singhvi said.
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“Now comes the remarkable thing, AJL did what every company in India and abroad does. It converted its debts into equity so this debt of Rs 90 crore was assigned to a new company, which is called Young Indian Private Limited (YIL). So that the books of the AJL became debt-free. Young India, which received the debt, was a newly created company under the provisions of the Companies Act Section 25, which has two vital conditions, one not for profit company and number two no dividends can be given to directors or shareholders,” he said.
He said that the AJL is still holding all the properties that it was holding earlier. “It continues to be the owner of the National Herald and it continues to be the printer and publisher. The only change is that YIL holds the shareholding of AJL,” Singhvi said.
“So, there is no money, no transfer of property and transfer of money and yet a charge of money laundering done. YIL cannot use money in any form it gets as it can neither pay nor accumulate profit. This is why this case was closed by then officials of ED in 2015,” he said.
“But the government didn’t like it and it removed the ED officials concerned, brought in new officials and reopened the case. This is to divert attention from inflation and other raging problems,” Singhvi added.
Targeting the government, he said, “This is far from a larger disease, which will consume the ruling party. The disease is attacking every political party purely on vendetta terms from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Farooq Abdullah to DMK functionaries, from Gujarat to West Bengal, from Mewani to Mamata Banerjee and her family.”
“The BJP has brought mala fide to every political opponent under the name of puppet agencies like CBI, ED, IT,” he said. “We will face them and we are not a bit scared or intimidated by such cheap tactics,” he added.
Even Surjewala slammed the government and said, “We will not get frightened, we will not bow down.”