New Delhi: In a bid to draw a parallel with allegations of impropriety against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari, Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy on Thursday brought charges of wrongdoing against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and general secretary Rahul Gandhi over what he described as the “fraudulent” purchase of a firm that used to run two newspapers.
Swamy, who is already engaged in a legal battle against finance minister P. Chidambaram over suspected irregularities in the allocation of 2G spectrum and licences, alleged that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi had floated a section 25 company (formed for the sole purpose of promoting commerce, art, science, religion and charity) called Young Indian.
“Young Indian then acquired the public limited company The Associated Journals Ltd, which is the owner of National Herald and Qaumi Awaz newspapers, and all its high-value real estate properties in Delhi and other places in Uttar Pradesh. The deal is sham, bogus and a violation of several laws. It is a fraud committed to grab Herald House in Delhi, valued at about Rs.1,600 crore,” Swamy said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dated 30 October.
Swamy released copies of the letter to the press at a news conference in the capital on Thursday.
Rahul Gandhi’s office denied the charges, describing them as “false, entirely baseless and defamatory.”
In a letter sent to Swamy, Gandhi’s office said that it would seek legal recourse.
“Please be informed that we shall pursue the legal remedies open to us against the utterly motivated and irresponsible contents of your press conference and that we shall pursue all proceedings that are available in law to ensure that an individual like you and an organization like yours do not abuse the freedom to speak and write in utter violation of the equally important need in a civilized society to maintain the dignity of individuals and organizations and to abide by the law of the country,” said the letter, copies of which were distributed to the media.
The Congress party ridiculed Swamy’s allegations.
“Every society and country has some wonders and the person you are mentioning (Swamy) is perhaps also one of them who can say anything at any time,” Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters, reacting to Swamy’s allegations.
Associated Journals could not be reached for an immediate response.
Swamy also alleged that the All India Congress Committee (AICC) loaned Associated Journals money to extinguish the liabilities of the company to the tune of more than Rs.90 core.
“It is illegal for a political party to give loans to a company,” he said. “The Resolution (passed by the Associated Journals board on 26 February 2011) went on to say that in lieu of this deal with AICC, the board has resolved to allot nine crore shares of Rs.10 each to Young Indian, the private company of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, where both have 38% shares each and together have majority shares and control the said company,” he said, demanding a joint probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Swamy cited allegations against Gadkari that he favoured some construction companies when he was public works department minister in the Maharashtra government. These construction companies in turn invested in Gadkari companies through some dummy companies, according to the allegations.
Anti-corruption activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal, who has targeted Gadkari, has also levelled allegations of wrongdoing against Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, and Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd.
Swamy said some media channels had gone to the houses of shareholders in the Gadkari companies seeking comment. “Will media do the same with Young Indian?” he asked.
“And I am not Arvind Kejriwal who will make allegations and do nothing. I will go to Supreme Court or trial court in December,” he said.
Suneera Tandon contributed to this report.