Here’s the key points:
Congress raises slogans in support of Sonia
Congress workers are raising slogans at the party office, extending their support to party chief Sonia Gandhi.
The opposition party is set to stage protests across the country against the questioning of Sonia Gandhi and has slammed the agency’s action against its top leadership as ‘political vendetta’.
‘Cops not letting media to enter AICC headquarters’
Ahead of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s questioning by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the party alleged on Thursday that the Delhi Police is preventing the media from entering the AICC headquarters here and said this “high-handedness” reflects the mindset of the Narendra Modi government.
“From the early hours of this morning the Delhi Police — obviously taking orders from the Union Home Minister — is preventing the media from entering the Congress party headquarters,” Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said in a tweet.
“This high-handedness was only to be expected and reflects the mindset of the Modi Sarkar,” he added.
Heavy security around ED office
Security has been beefed up outside the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office ahead of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi’s questioning in the National Herald case.
Paramilitary forces have been deployed in nearby areas to avoid any kind of untoward incidents.
The police have also deployed extra teams to keep an eye on those visiting the nearby areas and lanes.
Sonia’s session with ED deferred twice
The ED had on June 1 summoned Sonia Gandhi to appear before its investigators on June 8 in the case for the first time in connection with a money laundering case involving the National Herald.
The agency had issued similar summons to Sonia Gandhi investigators on June 8 and then on June 21.
Sonia Gandhi could not appear for questioning after testing positive and being hospitalised for Covid-19. The Congress leader had developed a mild fever on June 1 evening and was found Covid-19 positive upon testing the next morning. After her discharge from hospital, she had asked for more time to appear before the agency.
The ED wants to record Sonia Gandhi’s statements under criminal sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Rahul Gandhi questioned for over 5 days
Congress leader and Sonia Gandhi’s son Rahul Gandhi was quizzed at the ED office in the National Herald case for more than 50 hours spread over five days.
During Rahul’s questioning, the ED had sought details of the transactions and verifiable documents to prove Congress’s claim that it had paid Rs 90 crore to the Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), the publisher of National Herald to meet its expenses and fulfil obligations to its employees.
In 2010, the Gandhis launched Young Indian which took control of AJL by taking over the entire debt of Rs 90 crore owed by AJL. However, investigations later revealed that the YI paid only Rs 50 lakh in lieu of Rs 90 crore and yet the Congress agreed to transfer the entire shareholding of the company to Young Indian and settle the entire account.
Sharing details of his questioning, Rahul said: “I was made to sit in a small dark room. There were three ED officers questioning me. They would leave the room to take instructions but I sat on the chair for long hours and responded patiently to all their queries.”
View ED interrogation as medal: Rahul Gandhi
Taking a dig at the Centre, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said earlier this month that he views his interrogation by Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the National Herald case “like a medal”.
Addressing a public rally at Wandoor in Kerala’s Malappuram, Rahul said he was not worried and accused the BJP-led government of using probe agencies against its political rivals.
“After I left, I was wondering why they only interrogated me for five days, why not 10 days. I thought maybe I’m not opposing them strongly enough…it is quite clear that anybody who opposes the BJP faces ED. I view my five days of interrogation like a medal, and I am hoping that they do it again 3,4,5,6,10 times,” the Congress leader said.
The National Herald case
The case to investigate alleged financial irregularities under the PMLA was registered about nine months ago after a trial court took cognisance of an Income Tax department probe carried out on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP in 2013.
The petitioner had approached the court alleging that the assets of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which published the National Herald newspaper, were fraudulently acquired and transferred to Young Indian Pvt Limited (YIL), in which Sonia Gandhi and her son owned 38 per cent shares each.
The YIL promoters include Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Swamy had alleged that the Gandhis cheated and misappropriated funds, with YIL paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that AJL owed to the Congress.
Congress argued that YIL was a not-for-profit company under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 that can neither accumulate profits nor pay dividends to its shareholders.