Bengaluru: With a photo of his great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru towering over him, Rahul Gandhi today used the re-launch of the Congress-run National Herald newspaper to target the BJP-led government and criticise what he called the silencing of voices in the country.
- National Herald was launched by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938
- President Pranab Mukherjee will launch the print edition on June 20
- The paper is at the centre of legal tangle for the Gandhis
"The power of truth is being displaced by the truth of power. Anybody who attempts to stand by the truth is pushed aside. Dalits are beaten, minorities threatened," the Congress vice president said in Bengaluru.
"A Soviet poet once said, when truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie. That is what the government is trying to do. The National Herald has a strong spirit and will not be silenced. Speak the truth, do not be silenced, do not be scared. Thousands of journalists are not being allowed to write what we want," he alleged.
The National Herald was founded and edited by Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, in 1938 as a tool to win Independence. Nearly eight decades later, it has come to signify a legal tangle for Sonia Gandhi - the widow of Nehru's grandson Rajiv Gandhi - and her son Rahul Gandhi, the two top leaders of the Congress.
The Gandhis are accused in a petition of setting up a company, Young Indian, to buy the newspaper's debts using Congress party funds, and illegally acquiring property worth 5,000 crore belonging to the newspaper.
Last month, the Delhi High Court refused to stop a tax investigation into Young Indian but asked the Congress to approach the Income Tax assessing officer. The BJP called it a major setback for the Congress, which, however said it is free to raise objections with the Income Tax department.
The chief guest, Vice President Hamid Ansari, said, "The duty of the state is clear - free media is necessary for free society. When faced with unjust restrictions, censorship in the media can aid covering of abuses. "
After the mega start in Congress-ruled Karnataka, where elections will be held next year, the newspaper's weekly print edition will be launched by President Pranab Mukherjee in Delhi.