Of course to start with the Congress party did the obvious – paralysed the winter session of Parliament and the little bonhomie seen – post Bihar polls – ostensibly to pass the GST in the beginning of the session went for a toss. Surprisingly, Mamata Banerjee backed Congress at this challenging time. But was it a pure camaraderie of the opposition camp as Sudip Bandyopadhayay, Trinamool Congress floor leader in Lok Sabha, said – or a “sad” issue as Mamata herself dubbed?
|Who'll Summon First Dynasty?|
“I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi. I am not scared of anyone. I am not disturbed,” thus asserted Sonia Gandhi, Congress president close on the heels of the Delhi High Court dismissing her and Rahul Gandhi’s pleas challenging summons issued to them in the National Herald case. This in effect sought to redefine the judicial interpretation in the country as if the members of the first political dynasty in the country cannot be summoned by a court.
Supposedly tutored well by his associates, Rahul again played a rather moralistic card and directly dragged the Prime Minister into the imbroglio. “Well I absolutely see a political vendetta. This is the way the central government functions, the way they think.....The case is one hundred percent political vendetta. Pure political vendetta coming out of PMO. It is their way of doing politics.....I have full faith in judiciary. We will see what comes out in the end. Truth will come out,” he said. The BJP could not stomach the charges lying down. While Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs, dared Rahul to substantiate his charge in Parliament on the floor of Lok Sabha; his senior colleague M Venkaiah Naidu rejected Rahul Gandhi's contention that the case was "100 per cent vendetta coming out of the PMO".
Naidu in his style wondered if the Congress vice president was attacking former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh because the case was filed in 2012 when the UPA was in power and the PMO was under Dr Singh. He also pointed out that Dr Subramanian Swamy, a BJP leader who is the complainant in the case, was not in the saffron party when he had lodged it.
Important issue being discussed in the corridors of power is the timing of the whole episode. While it is an three-year old case the murmuring is it just came at a time when the Congress camp declined to cooperate with the government on the GST.
Floated in 1937 by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Associated Journal Ltd – meant to publish The National Herald and ‘Quami Awaz’ in Urdu, decided to cease publication of its papers altogether in 2008. To put shutters down and payoff the remaining staff on its rolls and settle outstanding dues, the company required Rs 90 crore.
Congress party, as it was claimed, provided an 'interest-free loan'. And as part of a gripping capitalism-thriller, in 2010 a trust company, or a non-profit company, Young Indian set up with a paid up capital of Rs 5 lakh. It had Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi with 38 per cent each as share holders, and Motilal Vohra and Oscar Fernandez, both old family associates of the Dynasty, holding the remaining 24 per cent.
The genesis of the case – as smelt by Dr Subramanian Swamy – and now perhaps taken cognizance of the court lies in the fact that within a month of its formation, Young Indian took over the Rs 90 crore interest-free loan that had been provided to AJL by paying a princely sum of Rs 50 lakh to the Congress. The remaining amount was written off. In effect, AJL now owed Rs 90 crore to Young Indian, among whose directors were Sonia Gandhi, Rahul, Oscar Fernandez, Motilal Vohra, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda.
“The deal is a sham, bogus, and a violation of several laws including Companies Law, the Income-Tax Act, Indian Penal Code Sections 405-08, 420, 467, and 193, Election Law, and Government Residence Allotment Rules,” Dr Swamy, then not a BJP leader, said in 2012 when he moved the court.
The story is akin to rags-to-riches as AJL as in 2012-13 with properties across India in cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Allahabad, was believed to be worth more than Rs 2000 crore easily passed on Young Indian where mother-son duo have about 76 per cent shares daily.
Here let’s have a closer look at the complaints of Dr Swamy in the case:
The maverick Dr Swamy, as is popularly described, says, “Young Indian filed statements with the Registrar of Companies in March 2012, disclosing that the shareholders meetings were held in Sonia Gandhi’s government-allotted 10, Janpath.
This is in violation of the law, since 10, Janpath, New Delhi, is government-provided accommodation which cannot be used for commercial purposes and business”.
Moreover, the former Law Minister in Chandrashekhar government – which ironically was supported by Congress under Rajiv Gandhi - says “over 80 per cent of the persons mentioned in the 2011 shareholders’ list filed with the RoC are deceased”, such prominent persons such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sharda Prasad, and GD Birla, as also some defunct Kolkata-based companies.
“Hence the Board Meeting of AJPL handing over the company to Young Indian is a violation of the Companies Act and is an offence as well as a fraud on the public”.