- ED is probing financial irregularities in Young Indian Pvt Ltd that owns National Herald newspaper
- Congress' first family, including Sonia & Rahul, are among promoters & shareholders of Young Indian
- Congress said that Gandhis will comply with the ED summons
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has summoned Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and party MP Rahul Gandhi for questioning in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper, party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters on Wednesday.
Published by Associated Journals Limited and owned by Young Indian Pvt Limited National Herald is considered the Congress' mouthpiece. The first family of the Congress party, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, are among the promoters and shareholders of Young Indian.
While Sonia Gandhi, 75, has been asked to depose before the federal agency on June 8, Rahul is understood to have been asked to appear earlier, sources told India TV.
'BJP misusing ED'
Surjewala said that the ED is being misused by the BJP to target the opposition parties' leaders. He then went on to dub the ED as Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'paaltu' (pet).
"ED is PM Modi's 'paaltu' (pet) and favourite. This is being done to divert attention from issues concerning the public. This government is indulging in vendetta politics," he said.
Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the "fake issue of AJL is an attempt by BJP's propaganda machinery to deviate the attention of citizens from various issues like falling GDP, inflation and other issues".
"The Modi government should know that by registering such fake and fabricated cases, they cannot succeed in their cowardly conspiracy," Singhvi said.
'Congress leadership fearless'
"Neither will the EC be able to stop the National Herald, the voice of the freedom movement, nor will it be able to scare Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi," he added.
"The Congress leadership is fearless and ready to present itself before the probe agency. We will not be afraid of such tactics, we will not bow down, but we will fight hard legally, socially and politically," Singhvi said, adding that the senior Gandhi will comply with the summons while Rahul Gandhi will go if he is here or he may seek a fresh date.
The case to probe alleged financial irregularities in the party-promoted Young Indian that owns the National Herald newspaper was registered recently. The agency, officials said, wants to record the statements of Sonia and Rahul under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Pawan Bansal, Kharge quizzed
The agency recently questioned senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal as part of the investigation.
The questioning of the senior Congress leaders and the Gandhis is part of ED's investigation to understand the share holding pattern, financial transactions and role of the promoters of Young Indian and AJL, officials told PTI.
The agency registered a fresh case under the criminal provisions of the PMLA after a trial court took cognisance of an Income Tax Department probe against Young Indian Pvt Ltd on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
Swamy had accused Sonia, Rahul and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds with Young Indian Pvt Ltd paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associate Journals Ltd owed to the Congress.
Earlier in February last year, the Delhi High Court had issued a notice to the Gandhis for their response on Swamy's plea seeking to lead evidence in the matter before the trial court. They, however, contended in the Delhi High Court that the plea by Swamy was "misconceived and premature".
The other accused in this case filed by Swamy are Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda. They have earlier said that they did nothing wrong.
With PTI Inputs