New Delhi: Congress has come out with a set of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ to present its side of the story regarding the National Herald issue as the party said that the Gandhis have not benefited financially from Young Indian Ltd. The party also dismissed as “absolutely false” the claim that Young Indian (YI) Ltd, the company formed in the wake of financial troubles concerning Associated Journals Ltd (AJL), was a “real estate company”. Congress also underlined that there is no restriction in law on political parties giving loans and the Election Commission had issued a clear order in this regard in November, 2012.
“BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had sought derecognition of Congress on this ground but his complaint was dismissed by a full bench order of the Election Commission” at that time, AICC said.
On whether Sonia or Rahul Gandhi benefited financially from Young Indian, it said, “No. As directors or shareholders of Young Indian, a non-profit, Section 25 company, they are prohibited by law from drawing (and have not drawn) any financial benefits from the company.” It also denied that any assets were transferred from AJL to YI. “All the assets and the income of AJL remain with the company. Not a single paisa has gone to YI, YI Directors or YI Shareholders,” it said in the FAQs on its website under the heading, ‘National Herald’.
It rejected as “false” the claim that YI was created to usurp the property owned by AJL. “On the contrary, Young Indian, being a non-profit Section 25 company, as the major shareholder AJL, in fact, enhances the safeguards on the properties of the AJL,” it said. On the claim by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley that YI is a real estate company, it said the statement was “absolutely false”.
“Absolutely false. YI does not own a single real estate asset or immoveable property. AJL continues to own all its assets. The allegation is, therefore, completely baseless,” it said.
Congress also denied claims that YI now owns the property of AJL. “No, both Young India and Associated Journals Ltd are separate entities. All assets and properties of AJL continue to remain with AJL. This allegation is akin to falsely alleging that a shareholder in Indian Hotels Ltd. has rights on hotel properties of the Taj Group and owns a particular hotel or can move into it!” the party said.
On the justification behind Congress giving loans of Rs 90 crore to AJL, the party maintained it has financially supported AJL over several decades through the financial ill- health of the company. “This reflected the party’s commitment to support AJL, the voice of the freedom movement,” it said. No commercial bank was willing to lend a single rupee to AJL due to the negative worth of the company, its “meagre income and its over-leveraged” balance sheet, it said. According to Swamy’s complaint, all who are named in the case were directors of YI, a company that was incorporated in 2010 and took over the “debt” of AJL, the publisher of National Herald.
Sonia and Rahul last week moved the Supreme Court seeking the quashing of the criminal case and summons issued to them and five others on several grounds, including that the complaint by Swamy in the National Herald case was a “political move” aimed to “defame” them.