Gandhis, face trial, no excuses please

The Congress party’s public position on the National Herald case, in which its top leaders including president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi are involved, is very untenable, and it is wrong on the part of the party to use it as a pretext to disrupt parliament. Whether or not there is merit in the case filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swami charging the Congress leaders with fraud and misappropriation of the assets of the National Herald newspaper is for the courts to decide. The judicial process is under way and the Congress leaders have been summoned to the court. The case is that the company which owned the newspaper was acquired by a new company controlled by the Gandhis for a low consideration and that it gave it control over assets worth about Rs 2,000 crore of the newspaper. The Congress says no assets have been transferred
out of the newspaper and it is not legally possible under the deal. However, the deal has raised questions which the Congress has yet to convincingly answer. The court has said there may be “criminal intent” in the deal, though this is to be established during trial.

Why can’t the party wait for the due judicial process to settle the issues? It claims that the government is acting out of vendetta against the Congress and its leaders. Its biggest grouse seems to be that the Gandhi family members have been called to appear in court. Does the party think they are above the law? The vendetta charge loses its sting when it is known that when Swami filed the case in 2012, he was the Janata Party president. The BJP may be pleased with the embarrassment of the Congress but that does not mean that it is behind the case and has pursued it to hound the party. The Congress has not produced any evidence to show that the BJP leadership, or the Prime Minister’s Office, is “100 per cent” behind the case against the party. To make a charge of vendetta in this situation also amounts to casting aspersions on the judiciary. The party does no credit to itself by doing so.

The worst part of the Congress response is the blockading of parliament on the issue. Parliament has important legislative agenda before it, including the important Goods and Services Tax bill, on which there seemed some meeting ground was emerging between the government and the Congress. It seems the party is only inventing excuses, one after another, to obstruct the functioning of parliament. In the process, it is losing its credibility and inviting opprobrium.

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