Former Congress president and Lok Sabha member Rahul Gandhi has been questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for the third day in what is known as the National Herald case. He will be questioned again on Friday, leading to speculations that he might even be arrested at the end of the questioning. The ED’s action has been agitating the party cadres so much that there have been tense situations in the Capital. The Delhi Police did not crown themselves with glory when they barged into the Congress office to “arrest” the party cadres protesting against what they call the harassment of their leader. The case is nothing new, as it had been investigated in the past and it was found that there was nothing criminal in the financial transactions. However, it is at the instance of a BJP leader that the government has swung into action this time. The ED has, over the years, become a powerful tool in the hands of the government to harass Opposition leaders. It is no secret that Rahul Gandhi is one leader whom the ruling party hates the most. And one slogan it has always raised is about ridding the nation of the Congress party.
The BJP’s hatred for the Congress is understandable because it is still the only party with an all-India base which has the potential to challenge the ruling party at the Centre and in many states. The party leaders know that it can easily control other parties like the BSP and the Samajwadi Party by controlling their leaders. Rahul Gandhi is one leader who never held any office of profit and who never compromised his stand on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party. What’s more, there was never any let-up in his campaign against the Sangh Parivar. In short, no other political leader, save Lalu Yadav, has been as consistent and forthright as Rahul Gandhi has been in his opposition to the BJP’s ideology. It is against this backdrop that the government has found in the National Herald case a weapon against not only Rahul Gandhi but also his mother and Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi. The newspaper was founded to espouse the cause of freedom and it was never a profit-maker. When the Congress became the ruling party, the paper’s fortunes should have brightened. The fact is that the paper was never a business success.
If the National Herald was not wound up, it was because it used to get advertisement support from the government, including public sector companies. When the party lost power at the Centre, it found the paper impossible to run. The Congress was in a Catch-22 situation, in the sense that if the paper was not published from the Herald building it would have lost its claim to the property. That was why it was published as a weekly paper. Around the same time, on the advice of accountants and lawyers, a new entity called the Young Indian took over the National Herald which was in the red. The ownership of the Young Indian was vested in the hands of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Motilal Vora and others. An amount of Rs 1 crore is alleged to have been received in the accounts of the Young Indian from a shell company. The right person who could have answered all the questions related to the transactions was Motilal Vora, who was a signatory to all transactions and who served as the Treasurer of the Congress for a long period. Alas, he died during the interregnum.
In any crime, the investigators have to find out who the actual beneficiaries of the "crime" are. Once this question is answered, it is not difficult to pin the blame on someone. The question that arises is: Did Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi benefit from the Young Indian taking over National Herald? Did the two get any pecuniary benefit from the transaction? It is claimed that the National Herald property is worth Rs 2000 crores. The fact of the matter is that the value is notional, like the “presumptive losses” the government suffered in the 2G spectrum allocation. The value is like the amount written on an invalidated cheque issued by a bank facing liquidation, to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi. During the Emergency, when the government sought to harass a newspaper chain located on the same road in Delhi, it was found that the clever proprietor had mortgaged every item to some company or the other and the government could not find anything that actually belonged to the proprietor. If Rahul Gandhi or, indeed, anyone else has done anything wrong, he should be punished. However, selective use of the law to harass the Opposition, when worse financial transactions are done by the ruling party, does not make the nation proud.