NEW DELHI: Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi will not join the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probe in connection with the National Herald case as she is yet to recover from the Covid, party sources said on Tuesday.
Sonia Gandhi was summoned by the financial probe agency to appear before it on June 8 in connection with the case.
A party source told The New Indian, “Sonia Gandhi has yet not tested negative for Covid. So she will not join the ED probe tomorrow.”
He said that the advocates for Sonia Gandhi have communicated to the ED regarding the same.
Sonia Gandhi had tested positive for Covid on June 1, party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala had revealed on June 2.
Surjewala had also insisted that Sonia Gandhi will join the ED probe on June 8.
Besides Sonia Gandhi, the ED had also summoned former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi for questioning on June 2.
Rahul Gandhi had asked for another date to appear before the ED as he was abroad.
The Congress Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Wayanad has been asked to appear on June 13.
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.
Following the ED summons to the Gandhi family, the Congress has slammed the BJP government at the centre and said it will not be “intimidated” by such cheap and vendetta politics.
Addressing a press conference here at the party headquarters on June 1, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi along with Randeep Singh Surjewala accused the ruling BJP of misusing the investigative agencies against the political opponents.
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.”
He had 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 had 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.”