Gandhis To Appear In National Herald Case; 'Political Vendetta,' Says Rahul Gandhi

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When the Gandhis received tax notices in the case, Sonia Gandhi had called it political witch-hunt (Agence France-Presse photo)


New Delhi:  Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi will appear in a Delhi court on December 19 to face allegations that they illegally acquired property worth Rs. 5,000 crore belonging to the National Herald newspaper, in what the Congress alleges is "persecution" of its leaders.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi told NDTV: "I was asked if I was afraid. I replied that I am the daughter-in-law of Indira Gandhi and I am not afraid of anybody or anything."

Rahul Gandhi said he "absolutely saw political vendetta" in the case. "This is the way the union government tries to silence me. It will not happen and I will continue to ask questions and put pressure on the government," the Congress Vice President said in Puducherry.

Rallying behind their two top leaders, Congress lawmakers forced both houses of Parliament to adjourn hours before time at a time the government is desperate to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill. The Congress accused the ruling party of targeting its leaders through Subramanian Swamy, the BJP leader who filed the National Herald case.

"Subramanian Swamy has been given a specific task to target the Congress," senior party leader Kapil Sibal said at a press conference.

"There is no political vendetta. Congress leaders should face the court," said union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

The Gandhis were to appear in a lower court today, but were granted a new date on their request. "We told the court that the accused are extremely keen, ready and willing to appear before the magistrate at the earliest possible date," said Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing them.

Yesterday, the Delhi High Court refused to cancel court summons to the two top Congress leaders, saying the allegations "smacked of criminality."

The "National Herald case" is based on Mr Swamy's allegation that Congress leaders gave Rs 90 crore as loan from tax exempted money to National Herald and acquired the newspaper illegally for just Rs. 50 lakh with the aim of grabbing its properties in Delhi worth thousands of crores.

The National Herald was set up in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister and Rahul Gandhi's great-grandfather. In 2008, Sonia Gandhi decided to shut down the newspaper, which had been struggling for decades with mismanagement and poor earnings.


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