NEW DELHI: The political atmosphere here was all charged up on Wednesday with the barely 50-day old Narendra Modi Government and the Congress on a sparring spree both inside and outside Parliament on every issue ranging from price rise to Rahul Gandhi’s catnap during a Lok Sabha debate.
The day began with Congress president Sonia Gandhi telling a news channel that the new government was being politically vindictive in the wake of an Income Tax notice served on the party in the National Herald case.
“This kind of political witch-hunt will only help us and help us to come back faster,’’ Sonia asserted.
BJP leader Subramaian Swamy on whose petition the court served summons to Sonia and Rahul and senior Congress leaders Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes and Gandhi family aides Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey, retorted, “The BJP is not in the picture. I have filed the petition in my individual capacity.”
But the distinction got blurred when I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar’s too launched a sharp counter attack.
“There is no political vindictiveness, if we in the government actually want to be vindictive, the Congress and the Gandhis will have no place to hide,” he said.
The view that the two sides are on a warpath, picking on each other on every issue, not just on political ground, was reinforced. Swamy, in his petition, has alleged that the takeover of the assets and properties of the Association Journals Ltd, which published the now-defunct National Herald and a Urdu newspaper, was the intention behind transfer of majority stake to new entity, Young India, owned by Sonia and Rahul (76 per cent). At the core of the dispute is an unsecured loan of `90 lakh that the Congress gave to YI for the purpose.
While a political party gets I-T exemption for its activities, a loan to a company takeover cannot fall in the realm of politics, therefore the IT exemption.
However, senior Congress leader Janardan Dwivedi said the loan was given on non-profit basis to revive the newspaper founded by Jawaharlal Nehru and “is no less an emotional political and ideological activity for us”.
Both Vora, the party’s treasurer and Sonia herself, confirmed the tax notice.
Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi later said the “political vendetta pettiness will boomerang” on the government and “help the Congress to bounce back”.
In the reply to the debate in the Lower House, Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan also squarely blamed the previous UPA Government’s economic mismanagement for the inflationary trends.
The Congress retaliated and said they were “blaming the UPA for their own inability to tackle the situation that is affecting the common people”.