The Enforcement Directorate has asked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi to appear before it on July 26 instead of July 25 for questioning in the National Herald case, PTI reported on Friday. The reason for the change in the date was not immediately known.
According to Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, the Enforcement Directorate has said it is “not in a convenient position” on July 25 to question Gandhi, ANI reported.
On Thursday, Congress members protested across the country as Gandhi was questioned for three hours. They alleged that the Enforcement Directorate’s action reflected the “vendetta politics” of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government. The police used water cannons to control the protesting Congress workers in Delhi.
On Thursday morning, 12 Opposition parties issued a joint statement against the Modi government’s misuse of investigating agencies.
The statement said that prominent political leaders have been deliberately targeted and subjected to harassment in an unprecedented manner. The Opposition parties vowed to intensify their collective fight against the Modi government.
The signatories include leaders of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Telangana Rashtra Samithi, Shiv Sena, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India, Revolutionary Socialist Party, Indian Union Muslim League, National Conference and the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the Congress said that the funds which Enforcement Directorate claims are misappropriated have been accounted for. “As National Herald and AJL [Associated Journals Limited] were unable to pay their debts due to a financial crisis, the debt was converted into equity shares allotted to a not-for-profit company named Young Indian,” it said.
The case against the Gandhis
The National Herald is published by Associated Journals Limited and owned by Young Indian Private Limited.
In April 2008, the paper suspended operations as it had incurred a debt of over Rs 90 crore. Bharatiya Janata Party MP Subramanian Swamy has accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi of setting up the Young Indian Private Limited firm to buy the debt using the funds from the Congress.
In his complaint before a trial court, Swamy accused the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate the funds. He has alleged that the Young Indian firm paid only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that the Associated Journals Limited owed to the Congress.
The party had loaned the amount to Associated Journals Limited on an interest-free basis, according to court records. The Congress has claimed that there was no money exchange and only conversion of debt into equity took place to pay off dues like salaries.