The Maharashtra unit of the Congress on Sunday alleged that the ED’s summonses to party president Sonia Gandhi and leader Rahul Gandhi were a result of ”political vendetta”, and said the grand old party will not bow down to any pressure tactics of the ruling BJP. The party also claimed that not a single paisa was misappropriated in the National Herald case.
”Congress will not bow to the oppressive tactics of the BJP. The party will hold an agitation on Monday in front of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) offices across the country, including in Mumbai and Nagpur,” party’s state chief spokesperson Atul Londhe said in a press conference here.
”The BJP government at the Centre has sent ED notices to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the National Herald case out of political vendetta. Not a single paisa was misappropriated in this case and no director of the National Herald received any benefits or money,” he claimed.
The reopening of this case, which was closed in 2015, is a form of harassment of the Gandhi family, but the Congress party will not bow to the BJP government’s repression. The Congress will hold agitation in front of the ED offices in Mumbai and Nagpur on Monday against the BJP’s repression, Londhe said.
The National Herald newspaper was founded in 1937 by great leaders like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Purushottam Tandon, Acharya Narendra Dev and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, he said.
The newspaper played a key role in India’s Independence movement. It was banned by the British government between 1942 and 1945. Even after the Idependence, in order to carry forward the idea of democracy and constitution, this newspaper was continued despite losses, he added. ”In order to pay the salaries of journalists and staff of this newspaper, Congress gave a loan of Rs 90 crore in 100 instalments to the National Herald between 2002 and 2011. Lending in this way is not illegal under any law. All these transactions are completely transparent. How can this be called money laundering when there is no transfer of movable and immovable property and when nobody got any benefits?” he asked.
As the National Herald could not pay the Rs 90 crore debt, Associated Journals Limited (AJL) converted it into equity shares and the shares were transferred to Young India, a not-for-profit company, under Section 25, Londhe said.
At that time Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, late Oscar Fernandes, late Motilal Vora and Suman Dubey were the managing members of the company and have not received any benefits. All these things are very clear and yet, this action is being taken only out of political vendetta, the Congress leader added. ”The BJP government at the Centre is raising such issues to divert people’s attention from the main issues of inflation, rising prices of petrol and diesel, rupee depreciation, economic downturn and killings of Kashmir Pandits,” he said.
On June 13, a nationwide agitation will be held in front of the ED offices to protest against this action, he added.
In Mumbai, a protest march willl be taken out from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) to ED office around Monday noon under the leadership of Congress’s Maharashtra unit chief Nana Patole, Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat and Mumbai Congress president Bhai Jagtap, Londhe said. Rahul Gandhi is set to appear before the ED in Delhi on Monday in connection with the case.