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National Herald case: ED summons Sonia, Rahul; Congress slams govt

According to ED sources, the two Congress leaders have been asked to appear before the financial probe on June 8. This is the first time summons have been issued to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi by ED in this case. 

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New Delhi:  The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi in connection with the National Herald case, sources said on Wednesday. 

According to ED sources, the two Congress leaders have been asked to appear before the financial probe on June 8. This is the first time summons have been issued to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi by ED in this case. 

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Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, at a press conference along with Chief Spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala, said Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have been summoned, calling it ‘political vendetta’. 

Surjewala said the Indian National Congress paid Rs 90 crore to Associated Journals Ltd., the company that runs the National Herald newspaper established in 1937, to pay its dues by cheque over a period of about 10 years and in about 100 installments. He said out of this, an amount of 67 crore was used by National Herald to pay the dues of its employees and the rest was spent on electricity payment, rent, building etc.

He said since the National Herald newspaper was not able to repay the debt, shares of Associated Journals Ltd. were given to “Young India” in lieu of it. 

Young India has Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and late Motilal Vohra in its Managing Committee.  

Singhvi said there was no money or money laundering involved in the case, and questioned why it was being reopened seven years after the probe was shut. 

The National Herald case, which has been linked with the Congress party and Congress leaders including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, has been going on for years. 

As per the complaint filed in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate, Associated Journals Limited (AJL) took an interest-free loan of Rs 90.25 crore from Indian National Congress, which was not paid back. 

A closely held company, Young India, was incorporated in November 2010 with a capital of Rs 50 lakh, and acquired almost all the shareholding of AJL and its properties.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the AJL was given a loan by the Congress as it was facing financial problems. 

“AJL did what every company in India does, what is known as basic corporate activity, it converted its debt into equity. This debt was assigned to Young India so that books of AJL became debt free.”

“Young India was a newly created company… A first year law student will tell you there is no transfer of property. Where is the money laundering? There is no money, no transfer of property, yet a charge of money laundering is made,” he said. 

Congress accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of trying to use agencies to target political opponents. 

“This is part of a larger disease, a disease which will consume the ruling party ultimately. The disease is one of attacking every political party purely on vendetta terms,” said Singhvi.

“From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Farrukh Abdullah to DMK functionaries, Gujarat to West Bengal, Mevani to Mamata Banerjee and the family of Mamata Banerjee…”

“The BJP has brought or tried to bring every political opponent under the net of puppet agencies like CBI, ED etc…. We will face them, we are not a bit scared or intimidated,” he added.

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