Congress’ decision to stage a Satyagraha across the country on Tuesday ahead of Sonia Gandhi’s second appearance before the ED drew the ire of the BJP. Addressing a press conference in Raipur, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra contended that Congress was behaving as if it is entitled to dacoity without facing any consequences. Highlighting the charges against the Congress president and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi, he opined that they cannot evade questioning. While Rahul Gandhi has been questioned on 5 days so far, Sonia Gandhi appeared before the ED on July 21.
Sambit Patra remarked, “First, Rahul Gandhi was in the dock. He also appeared before the ED and today, Sonia Gandhi is going. Naturally, if Sonia and Rahul Ji are facing charges of corruption worth Rs.5000 crore, they should be questioned. In the National Herald case, Sonia and Rahul hold 76% stakes in Young Indian. Should Sonia Gandhi not be questioned?”
He added, “For the Congress party, ED means Entitlement for Dacoity. They feel that they have entitlement for dacoity. That means that we will loot and we won’t be questioned. They indulge in corruption worth Rs.5000 crore and won’t answer any questions. A letter was written by Congress to all its state chiefs and leaders that you must do a satyagraha under Mahatma Gandhi’s statue. This is the height of hypocrisy.”
The National Herald case
In 2013, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy filed a private criminal complaint wherein he accused Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds. He specifically highlighted that Young Indian Pvt. Limited paid only Rs.50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs.90.25 crore that Associated Journals Limited (AJL) owed to Congress. On December 19, 2015, the Gandhi mother-son duo got bail on furnishing a personal bond of Rs.50,000 each and a surety after the court ruled out apprehension that they will flee the country.
In February 2021, the Delhi High Court issued notice to the Gandhis seeking their response to Swamy’s plea seeking to lead the evidence in the matter before the trial court. However, they contended that the plea by the BJP parliamentarian was “misconceived and premature”. The ED registered a case under PMLA after a trial court in Delhi took cognizance of the Income Tax probe against Young Indian Pvt. Limited. In 2015, the investigation wing of the I-T department submitted a detailed Tax Evasion Petition against some persons including Rahul Gandhi.
It alleged that the Lok Sabha MP concealed the information that he was the director of Young Indian Pvt. Ltd and one of its largest shareholders while submitting his I-T returns for 2011-12. As AJL had prime properties across India including in Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Panchkula and Lucknow, Young Indian Pvt Ltd. became the owner of these assets when it purchased the shares of the former. While the Congress president was originally summoned by the ED on June 8, her appearance date was pushed forward after she tested positive for COVID-19.