Rahul & Sonia Gandhi: What exactly is the case of the National Herald?

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Akansha Saini, New Delhi: On Monday, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Party’s leader, appeared before a government body in connection with allegations of corruption.

Rahul Gandhi marched to the Enforcement Directorate office in Delhi
Rahul Gandhi marched to the Enforcement Directorate office in Delhi

Mr Gandhi, flanked by his sister Priyanka and hundreds of party members, marched to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office in Delhi, which combats financial crime.

Earlier in the day, during a demonstration, the Delhi Police detained several Congress members, including top leaders Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, KC Venugopal, and Ashok Gehlot.

Mr Gandhi and his mother, Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, were recently summoned by the ED to explain allegations of money laundering in the so-called National Herald Case.

Ms Gandhi had Covid and was admitted to a hospital on Sunday; her health, according to a party official, is “stable.” A new summons has been issued by the ED for June 23.

Subramanian Swamy, a member of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), filed the lawsuit, accusing the Gandhis of misusing party funds to purchase a company that published the now-defunct National Herald newspaper.

The Gandhis vehemently deny any financial wrongdoing.

National Herald case?
National Herald

What is the purpose of the National Herald?

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister and Rahul Gandhi’s great grandpa, founded the National Herald newspaper in 1938.

Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which was created in 1937 with 5,000 other freedom fighters as stockholders, published the journal. In addition to the Qaumi Awaz in Urdu and Navjeevan in Hindi, the firm published two other newspapers.

The National Herald became associated with India’s liberation struggle after being shaped by some of the country’s most powerful leaders, earning it the title as the country’s great nationalist newspaper.

The British authorities mocked the newspaper’s ferocious and sharp editorial style – Nehru regularly penned strong-worded editorials – and banned it in 1942, forcing the daily to close down. However, three years later, the paper reopened.

After taking office as Prime Minister of India in 1947, Nehru resigned as chairman of the board of the newspaper.

The Congress party, on the other hand, continues to play a significant role in moulding the newspaper’s ideology. Nehru himself commented of the National Herald’s “usually favouring Congress policy” while keeping “an independent outlook” in a message to the publication on its silver jubilee in 1963.

Under the guidance of some of India’s best writers, the National Herald grew to become one of the major English daily, despite the fact that it was still supported by the Congress party.

However, due to financial constraints, the daily discontinued publication once more in 2008. It was resurrected as a digital publication in 2016.

Subramanian Swamy, a senior BJP politician, lodged the complaint against the Gandhis.
Subramanian Swamy, a senior BJP politician, lodged the complaint against the Gandhis.

What exactly are the charges levelled against Congress?

Mr Swamy filed the action against the Gandhis in a trial court in 2012.

Mr Swamy claims that the Gandhis utilised Congress party funding to take over AJL in order to acquire property worth more than 20 billion rupees.

The AJL owing the Congress 900 million rupees ($13 million; £10 million) when the National Herald was shut down in 2008.

The Congress allocated this debt to Young India Private Limited, a non-profit organisation that had been established only a few months before. The firm’s board of directors includes Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, who each hold 38 percent of the corporation.

The remaining 24% is owned by Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes, journalist Suman Dubey and entrepreneur Sam Pitroda, who are also named in the case.

According to Mr Swamy, the Gandhis used deception to “take over” assets worth millions of dollars in a “malicious” manner.

According to the BJP politician, Young India has full control of AJL and its real estate in Delhi, Lucknow, Mumbai, and other cities.



Jawaharlal Nehru started the National Herald in 1938
Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister and Rahul Gandhi’s great grandpa, founded the National Herald newspaper in 1938.

What does Congress have to say about it?

The BJP has been accused of “political vendetta” and has described the case as “a peculiar case of suspected money laundering without any money.”

It claims that the Congress, which has ruled India for the majority of the country’s history since independence, will “not be cowed down” and will “fight it out.”

Congress bailed out the Herald publisher AJL when it came into financial difficulties, according to the party, because it believed in its historical significance. The Congress lent the AJL roughly 900 million rupees over time.

AJL became debt-free in 2010, according to the party, when it traded its debt for equity and handed the shares to the newly formed Young India Private Limited.

Young India is a “not-for-profit company,” according to the Congress, and no dividends have been given to its shareholders and directors.

The AJL argues that it “continues to be the owner, printer, and publisher of National Herald” and that “no change or transfer of property has occurred.”

The BJP was “disrespecting and dishonouring India’s freedom soldiers, the stalwarts of the nation, and their contributions to the freedom struggle” by targeting the National Herald, according to party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

He further accused the administration of harassing political opponents by employing the ED and other federal law enforcement organisations.

The BJP government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of employing government agencies to target its adversaries.

-With Agencies Input


Akansha Saini
Bureau Head
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