The Congress conceded that it had indeed made "interest-free loans from which no commercial profit has accrued to the Indian National Congress". The statement said "the Indian National Congress has done its duty... to help initiate a process to bring the newspaper back to health in compliance with the law of the land. (Read: Full statement)
Mr Swamy alleged yesterday that the Gandhis floated a private company Young Indians to "illicitly" acquire a public limited company Associated Journal, which published National Herald, for Rs. 50 lakhs. The company they acquired, he says, has property worth Rs. 1600 crore in Delhi. Mr Swamy has also alleged that the Congress gave an unsecured loan of Rs. 90 crore to Associated Journals. Rahul Gandhi has threatened legal action against Mr Swamy. (Read)
Earlier in the day, the BJP's Arun Jaitley had asked the Congress to answer Mr Swamy's allegations. If it was true, Mr Jaitley said, that the Congress had paid Rs. 90 crores to Associated Journals, then it violated tax and electoral laws. "A political party is not allowed to give loans to anyone," the BJP leader said, adding that such a transfer could land the Congress into much trouble. A political party, he said, could only use funds it collected for political purposes and not for commercial uses.
Sam Pitroda, technocrat and adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is on the managing committee of Young Indians, has also threatened legal action against Mr Swamy. "There are lots of legal options against this motivated and irresponsible content. To be frank and fair, I am surprised that these things are going on in India today. I don't know how else to respond. I would rather spend time and energy worrying about development." (Read)
Mr Swamy today scoffed at Mr Gandhi's threat of legal action. "My advice to Rahul Gandhi is to grow up and go to the court," he said, also denying that he had been sent any letter. (Read)
The Congress' Manish Tewari, who has just taken over as Information and Broadcasting Minister accused the opposition of indulging in "scoot-and-shoot" in what he called a season for allegations. The charges made by Mr Swamy, he said, were "totally baseless. The BJP cannot question us on corruption. They should look at themselves first." (Read: Congress defends Rahul Gandhi)
Mr Swamy's Janata Party belongs to the NDA, the coalition of opposition parties led by the BJP. He has said that the Gandhis together own 76 per cent of Young Indians, a company which was incorporated in November, 2010. He has alleged that it went on to acquire the Associated Journals, which was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru and others in 1938 to publish newspapers that would offer Indians an option to British publications. The National Herald was published first in 1938; it closed down in 2008. (Read: Swamy's charges)
Mr Swamy has alleged that the Young Indians wrote off the 90-crore loan from the Congress for Rs.50 lakhs, and by a board resolution, the Associated Journals was sold by transferring its shares to Young Indians. Through this, Mr Swamy said, a public firm morphed into a private company.
Apart from Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, who hold 38 per cent each in the company, the Young Indians board includes veteran Congress leader Motilal Vora, former minister Oscar Fernandes, Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey.
Mr Swamy has alleged that the Young Indians' shareholders meeting "was held in Sonia Gandhi's Government allotted 10, Janpath. This is violation of the law since the 10, Janpath, New Delhi Government accommodation cannot be used for commercial purposes and business." The Janata Party chief has sought an inquiry by the CBI and the Corporate Affairs Ministry.