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ED summons Sonia, Rahul; Congress says will not be cowed down

Sonia has been called to appear before the ED on June 8
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 01 June 2022, 10:56 IST
Last Updated : 01 June 2022, 10:56 IST
Last Updated : 01 June 2022, 10:56 IST
Last Updated : 01 June 2022, 10:56 IST

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Congress president Sonia Gandhi and senior leader Rahul Gandhi have been asked to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in a money laundering case linked to National Herald newspaper, a move the party strongly criticised as one that “reek of vendetta politics” while asserting that its leaders will not bow down before pressure.

Sonia has been asked to appear before the agency on June 8 in a notice that was received in the last 48 hours while Rahul, who is not in town, was asked to join the investigations on June 2 but the former Congress president sought a time after June 5, as he is not in the country, party sources said on Wednesday.

This is the first time an investigating agency has summoned Sonia or Rahul in a case. The Congress is planning to make it a political fight of truth against vendetta politics, as it is a “weird case” in which “money laundering is alleged even as no money is involved”.

Congress sounded the war bugle by tweeting from its official handle, “when the Congress was not scared of the British and their atrocities, how can the ED notices break the courage of Sonia Gandhi-ji, Rahul Gandhi-ji and the Congress party. We will fight...we will win...we will not bow down...we will not be afraid.”

“Both the leaders will appear before the ED…we will face them. We are not a bit scared, overawed, or intimidated by such tactics,” senior party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told a press conference along with Chief Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. They attacked the Narendra Modi government for “vendetta, pettiness, fear and political cheapness”.

Rajya Sabha Chief Whip Jairam Ramesh tweeted, "The Vishwaguru of Vendetta has hit a new low with the issue of ED notice to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi today. It is a completely bogus money laundering case foisted on them with neither money flow nor any laundering. Truth will triumph. We will not be silenced!"

In April, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress Treasurer Pawan Bansal were questioned separately in the case. Singhvi said the case was closed in 2015 after finding no evidence of wrongdoing but reopened and issued summons seven years after winding up investigations initially.

According to Singhvi, the Associated Journals Ltd, which publishes The National Herald had accumulated debts over the decades, following which Congress had pumped in around Rs 90 crore. “AJL did what every company in India or abroad does. It converted its debt into equity. Rs 90 crore equity was assigned to a new company Young India,” he said.

The Young India, in which Sonia, Rahul and some other Congress leaders held shares, was registered as a not-for-profit company and through the transaction, the AJL became a debt-free company, he said.

“There was not even a transfer of a small property, there was no transfer of money. Where is money laundering then? Where is the money? No money was transferred…Yet a case of money laundering was registered. Young India cannot use the money in any form which it gets because it can neither pay dividend nor accumulate profit that it can give,” he said.

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, who was recently questioned by the CBI in an alleged bribery case, tweeted, “the Gestapo doing what it’s mandated to do, harassing the political opposition.”

BJP's Subramanian Swamy had earlier petitioned a court here accusing Sonia, Rahul and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that AJL owed to the Congress.

The Delhi High Court last year issued notices to the Gandhis on the plea of Swamy seeking to lead evidence in the matter before the trial court. The Gandhis responded saying Swamy's plea was "misconceived and premature".

The ED had claimed that the accused in the case, which also include former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and late Congress leader Motilal Vora, "used the proceeds of crime" in the form of a land plot allotted "illegally" to AJL in Panchkula and pledged it to avail loan from Syndicate Bank for constructing a building in Mumbai's Bandra area. This property valued at Rs 16.38 crore was attached two years ago.

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Published 01 June 2022, 07:59 IST

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