In National Herald Case, CBI Could Question Gandhis About Haryana Land

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In National Herald Case, CBI Could Question Gandhis About Haryana Land

Publishing company controlled by Congress' Rahul and Sonia Gandhi allotted Haryana land illicitly: CBI

New Delhi:  In a move that could lead to Congress bosses Rahul and Sonia Gandhi being questioned by the CBI, the agency has filed a case alleging that land for a publishing company controlled by them was illicitly allocated in Haryana when the state was governed by their party.

CBI officials, when asked, didn't deny that the Gandhis will be questioned. "We will scrutinise the papers to see where the liability lies,'' said a senior official handling the case.

The CBI's case is against BS Hooda, who was the Chief Minister in 2005 to return prime real estate in Panchukla, about 230 kms from Delhi, to Associated Journals. The allotment, made originally in 1982, was cancelled a decade later because the company had failed to construct the office that the land was intended for.

Mr Hooda's reversal of that decision cost the state 62 lakhs, the CBI says. His decision to allow the publisher the land, just months after he was elected, was being investigated originally by the state's anti-corruption vigilance department; it was transferred to the CBI this week after the BJP came to power in Haryana.

"This is vendetta and witch-hunt. Nothing wrong has been done during my tenure and in this case too, the rules were followed," the two-time former Chief Minister said to the Press Trust of India.

When it was given the Panchkula land, Associated Journals published the National Herald, a newspaper founded by Jawaharlal Nehru before independence. The Gandhis have been taken to court by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy who has accused them of cheating and criminal breach of trust by setting up a shell company called Young Indians to illegally gain control of properties worth $300 million that belonged to Associated Journals.

In 2008, the publishing company had unpaid debt of about $15 million. Mr Swamy says Young Indians used Congress party funds to buy the debt and acquire the publisher's real estate holdings, and rented them out, earning vast profits for its shareholders, among whom the Gandhis have the most stakes.

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