Congress challenges Swamy's charges against Gandhis - The New Indian Express

Congress challenges Swamy's charges against Gandhis

Published: 02nd November 2012 06:53 PM

Last Updated: 02nd November 2012 10:33 PM

The allegations by Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy of "wrongdoing" against Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi vis-a-vis the takeover of Herald House in Delhi escalated into political battle Friday.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley joined Swamy in asking the Congress to come clear if it had given a loan of Rs.90 crore to the company floated by the Gandhis. The Congress challenged Swamy to prove his allegations.

Swamy said his charges had not been answered even as Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's office Thursday termed the allegations as "utterly false, entirely baseless and defamatory".

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari dismissed allegations against Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.

"The charges are baseless. The only intent behind them seems to be to tar people with a dark brush," Tewari said.

Swamy told a press conference Friday that a company Young Indian, allegedly floated by the two Gandhis, had done a "sham and bogus" deal to "grab the Rs.1,600 crore worth Herald House" and other properties of the group.

Young Indian, he had said, acquired Associated Journals Pvt Ltd and became owner of the National Herald and Qaumi Awaz and all high value real estate in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh belonging to the group.

Swamy had also alleged that AJPL had obtained an unsecured, zero-interest loan of "Rs.90 plus crore" from the Congress.

Jaitley, who was in Shimla on the last day of campaigning in the hill state, said the board of directors of AJPL had passed a resolution Feb 26, 2011, saying the Congress had given a loan of Rs.90 crore to the company floated by the Gandhis.

He said the Congress must clarify whether the loan has been actually given or not. "It (giving loan) is a gross irregularity as exemption from income tax to the donors and political parties were given as incentives for transparent functioning of political parties," the BJP leader said.

In the capital, Congress spokesperson P.C. Chacko challenged Swamy to prove his allegations of wrongdoing against the Gandhis. "We don't take him (Swamy) seriously. We are not bound to answer the bland charges. It is for Swamy to go to the court if he feels any income tax law has been violated," Chacko said.

"We want to see whether Swamy will sue the Congress leaders," he said. "We are ready to face it legally," Chacko added.

Chacko said the letter by Rahul Gandhi's office to Swamy amounted to legal notice.

While Rahul Gandhi's office had conveyed commitment to pursue legal action against Swamy, Chacko seemed to emphasise it was for the Janata Party leader to prove his charges.

Khushid said: "There is absolutely no basis to these allegations. Companies are constantly making amendments in their constitution. In this case, it's a non-profit making company. Rather, it should be seen as an example of good governance," Khurshid said.

Swamy, meanwhile, kept up his attack on the Gandhis and said Rahul Gandhi had answered "not one" of his allegations. Speaking to Times Now, Swamy said he had written to both prime minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath and would wait for their replies on his allegations.

Swamy said if he does not get a reply to his letter from prime minister in two to three weeks, he "will certainly send a reminder".

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