Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to appear before the ED today for the fourth round of questioning in the National Herald money laundering case. Meanwhile, the Congress has planned a countrywide demonstration to protest against it. Here’s the story so far.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will present himself before the ED today for the fourth round of questioning in the National Herald money laundering case (PTI photo)
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday for a fourth round of questioning in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper.
Last week, the ED had questioned Rahul Gandhi for nearly 30 hours in three straight days from Monday till Wednesday, amid heated protests by Congress leaders and workers, many of whom were detained by police.
The Congress, which held protests without police permission last week, said it will stage peaceful demonstrations across the country against the “anti-youth” Agnipath recruitment scheme and the Modi government’s “vendetta politics” against Rahul Gandhi.
A delegation of Congress leaders will also meet President Ram Nath Kovind to bring his notice of the alleged manhandling and harassment of party MPs by the Delhi Police during their protests against the Gandhi scion’s questioning by the financial probe agency.
Here’s the story so far in the ED case against Rahul Gandhi and the Congress’s protests against it:
- The ED’s money laundering case relates to alleged financial irregularities in the Congress-promoted Young Indian Pvt Ltd, which owns the National Herald newspaper. The probe agency registered a new case under the criminal provisions of Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) after a trial court in Delhi took cognisance of an Income Tax department’s investigation into Young Indian on the basis of a criminal complaint filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.
- Rahul Gandhi is being questioned about his official position in Young Indian that he took over Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the company which runs the National Herald. He has also been questioned about his family’s shareholding in the AJL. His mother Sonia Gandhi has also been summoned for questioning but got a temporary reprieve due to her ill health.
Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi outside AICC office, after the former was summoned for questioning in the National Herald case (PTI photo)
- The party maintains that AJL, which was established in 1937, faced huge debts and the Congress, from 2002 to 2011, gave Rs 90 crore to the National Herald newspaper to pay the salaries of the journalists and staffers who worked there.
- Sources said Rahul Gandhi is being questioned about the circumstances under which the AJL was taken over by Young Indian in 2010 and thereby making it the owner of all assets owned by the National Herald newspaper.
Congress workers hold a satyagrah at AICC office in New Delhi against summoning of party leader Rahul Gandhi by the ED (PTI photo)
- The first round of questioning on Monday ended at 9:30 pm. Sources said that investigators at the federal probe agency were not satisfied with most of Rahul Gandhi’s answers. They said he appeared to be tutored. As some questions remained untouched during the interrogation due to lack of time, the Wayanad MP was asked to appear on Tuesday.
- During subsequent rounds of questioning, Rahul Gandhi reportedly told ED officials that Young Indian is a not-for-profit company that was incorporated under special provision of Companies Act. Congress leader added that not a single penny has been taken out of itaccording to sources.
- The sources added that Rahul Gandhi told the ED that late party leader Motilal Vora was the authorized signatory for all the financial transactions between the AJL and Young Indian Private Ltd. Motilal Vora was the treasurer of AICC at the time. However, his son Arun Vora has refuted the allegations as baseless.
Youth Congress President Srinivas BV being detained during a protest outside the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s second appearance in the National Herald case (PTI photo)
- While Rahul Gandhi presented himself at the ED office to depose on the money laundering case, Congress MPs, senior leaders and thousands of workers staged protests across the country. The stir turned violent in some places as party workers clashed with police and paramilitary forces. Protesters outside the ED office burnt tires, while those outside the party headquarters smashed police barricades. They were roughed up and taken away by cops, it was alleged. Hundreds of Congress supporters, including top leaders, were detained for protesting without permission and violating prohibitory orders last week.
Police stop Congress workers during a protest outside the AICC office against summoning of party leader Rahul Gandhi by the ED (PTI photo)
- Congress had alleged that some policemen forcibly entered its headquarters and beat up party workers and leaders on Wednesday. On the matter, Rajasthan MLA Sachin Pilot said, “You saw police enter Congress HQ. They lathi-charged, detained hundreds of people. Senior people, MLAs, MPs, and office bearers of the party were brutalized. A woman MP’s clothes were torn. Such action is uncalled for. Never before has police taken such action.”
Police detain a woman Congress worker during a protest outside the AICC office against summoning of party leader Rahul Gandhi by the ED (PTI photo)
- Senior Congress leaders, including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, party’s leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, P Chidambaram, and KC Venugopal, are set to meet President Ram nath Kovind and apprise him about the “unprovoked manhandling” of party MPs by the Delhi Police.
- Separate delegations of Congress leaders have already met Rajya Sabha chairman and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and have sought action for violation of the rights of MPs and asked them to treat the same as privilege notices.
(With inputs from reporters, PTI)