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‘PM Modi’s Favourite Weapon’: Congress After ED Summons Gandhis in PMLA Case

The Congress leaders have reportedly been summoned in connection with the National Herald case.

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Video Producer/Editor: Shohini Bose

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper.

Sonia Gandhi has been asked to come in for questioning on 8 June. Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, 1 June, Congress' General Secretary Randeep Surjewala said:

"ED is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's favourite weapon. The Modi government is trying to stray from real issues. This is a cowardly act. The Centre is scared. This is just a way to divert the people's attention, a part of a conspiracy," Surjewala added.

He added that the government can neither suppress the calls for freedom by National Herald, nor will they be able to scare either Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi. He added that even the British made attempts to suppress National Herald but failed.

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Attempt by BJP To Divert Attention From Real Issues: Singhvi

Meanwhile, party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "I want to make it clear at the outset that the fake issue of AJL (Associated Journals) is an attempt by BJP’s propaganda machinery to deviate, divert and digress the attention of citizens from the multifarious vital issues of inflation, falling GDP and social unrest, social divisiveness in this country."

"By targeting ‘National Herald’ every now and then, the BJP has in fact digressed, disrespected, and dishonoured the freedom fighters, the stalwarts of this nation and their contributions to the freedom struggle, where incidentally this particular party or its predecessors had absolutely no role to play," he added.

"This is truly a very weird case, alleged case, a money laundering case, on which summons are issued with no money involved. I have yet to hear of this absolute acrobatics in imagination of creating summons in respect of allegations of money laundering, where no money is involved. Now I take you back, very simply without being legalistic, without being technical on 4 or 5 admitted facts," Singhvi said.

"The CBI allegations in this regard or the investigative process in this regard starts with a well-known baiter of the Congress Party, Dr Subramanian Swamy and we are taken back to 2014-15 period. From 2014-15, the ED has not thought it fit till today, because they know, they have no material to seek summons about the Congress President or about the former Congress President. Today on the same facts, exactly the same alleged acts and omissions, not a comma, full stop change, on 22nd, end of May, you are issued summons to divert attention on the same facts by ED," he further said.

Singhvi Explains the AJL-Young Indian Connect

Talking about the company AJL and Young Indian, he said, "There is a company called AJL. It’s a venerable old company for decades. It carries the great flag of ‘National Herald’ with the legacy and the evaluation, we have just discussed. Over the years, it was there to project a thought process a set of values, but, commercially could not succeed. Therefore, commercially AJL had a lot of financial problems over the decades. Ultimately the Congress Party, which believes in those values, stepped in and over a period of time gave Rs 90 odd crores as financial support at different times. So AJL became an indebted company, a company with debt. Now comes a remarkable thing. AJL did, what every company in India does, what every company abroad does, what is known as basic of cooperate activity, it converted its debt into equity."

"So, this debt of Rs 90 crore was assigned to a new company and you must note, what new company is, it is called ‘Young Indian’, so that the books of AJL became debt free. ‘Young Indian’ in turn, which received the debt, was a newly created company under a special provision of the Companies Act, Section 25, which has two very vital conditions and not for profit company. It has to be, by definition, by statute, by law and no dividends can be given to its shareholders and directors. So, you cannot create a company, where he and I shareholders and we take Rs. 100, 50 each out of the company, you can’t take a penny. This is the nature of Section 25, company which ‘Young Indian’ is," he explained.

"This company AJL remains just the same. This AJL continues to hold all the profiting, it was holding earlier. It continues to be the owner of National Herald. It continues to be the printer and publisher, only change is that I hold the share holding of AJL. So there is no money, there is no transfer of property, there is no transfer of money, and yet a charge of money laundering is done."

"Young Indian cannot use money in any form, which it gets, because it can neither pay dividend nor accumulate profit by which it can give out the money, this is why, better minds, objective minds, non malevolent, non malafide minds close this case and you know this, we have said so earlier from the podium as far back as 2015 on the file, but, as malafide as this government is, they sack the head of the organisation ED at that time. They get a new opinion and they tried to reopen, in respect of which seven years later today they are summoning the Congress president, the former Congress president, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi."

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'Not Scared of Such Cheap Tactics'

Singhvi said that this this is a part of a larger disease, which will consume the ruling party ultimately.

"This is a 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 from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Farooq Abdullah to DMK functionaries, from Gujarat to West Bengal, from Mevani to Mamata Banerjee and the family of Mamata Banerjee. The BJP has brought or tried to bring malafide every political opponent under the net of puppet agencies like ED, CBI, IT etc," he said.

"We will face them. We are not a bit scared or intimidated by such cheap tactics, but, this interaction is being held to tell you the hollowness, more hollow than a pack of cards of the essential allegation, on which the summons are issued, nothing exist, because nothing can exist and therefore, we want you to see it, for what it is," he added.

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Have You Ever Seen a Criminal Say I'm a Criminal: Asks JP Nadda

Meanwhile, BJP chief JP Nadda said that both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi would obviously deny it.

"Have you ever seen a criminal say I'm criminal? They'll (Sonia-Rahul Gandhi) of course deny it. Documents are proof. If chargesheet is filed, you'd approach court to get it quashed, but they sought bail. It means they're guilty," he said.

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The Case

The case was registered recently to probe alleged financial irregularities in the party-promoted Young Indian, which owns the National Herald newspaper.

The ED, officials said, wants to record the statements of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

The National Herald is published by Associated Journals Limited (AJL) and owned by Young Indian Pvt Limited.

The agency had recently questioned senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Pawan Bansal as part of the investigation.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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