A tale of a grandson and his grandfather and defalcation…
Our Spl Correspondent
NEW DELHI, JUNE 11: The Enforcement Directorate has summoned Rahul Gandhi again to appear before the agency on June 13 after he could not make it to the June 8 appointment as he was out of the country.
The Congress says it will hold special media conferences on the same.
But there is a sea change in the country’s polity, state of politics and governance.
Between Rahul Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi there is of course a relation ~ one, the grandson and the other, a grandfather.
But does the similarity end here?
Irony does not seem to end. While Rahul has been summoned on the National Herald case by the ED for alleged corruption and malpractices, his illustrious grand dad ~ Indira Gandhi’s husband ~ had paradoxically taken up the cudgel against corruption of his time.
Decades ago in December 1955, Feroze Gandhi had tried to ‘expose’ how Ram Kishan Dalmia as Chairman of a bank had allegedly sought a takeover of Bennet and Coleman and had started ‘transferring money’ illegally from publicly held companies for personal benefits.
In 1958, Feroze Gandhi had played the whistleblower yet again and raised the Haridas Mundra scandal involving the Government-run LIC and a Kolkata-based businessman.
The episode, according to old records and media reports, proved “a huge embarrassment to the clean image of the Nehru Government”.
In contrast his grandson (former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s son) ~ Rahul Gandhi ~ got himself appointed as a director of a company called Young Indian and the said company with a capital of Rs 50 lakhs could acquire all shareholding of AJL worth Rs 5,000 crore.
The Enforcement Directorate had in 2020 attached one of the prime properties in Mumbai’s Bandra location under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The market value of the property is stated to be to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees and allegedly allotted to Associated Journals Limited (AJL) illegally.
It had done so in May 2019 with a property in Gurugram worth Rs 65 crores in the same ‘National Herald case’.
For the record, it has to be noted that Rahul Gandhi was appointed director of Young Indian, the company that got all the benefits in a clear one-sided deal, on December 13, 2010, while his mother Sonia Gandhi joined the board of directors on January 22, 2011.
The Supreme Court has in the past upheld the Income Tax Department’s decision to re-open tax assessment of concerned players for the financial year 2011-2012 in connection with the ‘National Herald Case’.
The ED had in December 2018 attached property worth Rs 30 crore in Mohali.
The Bandra plot in Mumbai came under scanner only after BJP leader Dr Subramaniam Swamy had filed a case accusing them of misappropriating the National Herald’s properties.
The said property at Bandra in Mumbai was provided to National Herald in 1983 at concessional rates to publish the newspaper.
In contrast to all these, the expose by Feroze Gandhi on the Mundra scandal had actually brought to light the latent rift between Jawaharlal Nehru and his son-in-law (Feroze Gandhi) in a big way.
The gory episode had also led to the resignation of India’s Finance Minister TT Krishnamachari.
Old timers among Congress leaders and even socialists a few years back had said, unlike the
‘Gandhis’ of the new century in Indian politics, Feroze Gandhi was known for his sober ways, simple living and was truly a Gandhian.
This was in the context of the frequent appearance of Robert Vadra in ‘Page-3 parties’ in all pomp and show.
A few other Congress leaders have also been grilled. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge and Congress treasurer Pawan Bansal were questioned in April.
The Congress questions the ‘money laundering angle’. It has maintained that Young Indian was formed ‘with the aim of charity’. The Congress leaders say the transactions were ‘not a financial one but a commercial’ one.
Lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi said: “There has been no transfer of property or cash, how can there be a money laundering case?”
Others do not buy the Congress line. One version is, it is a case of ‘loans’ involving fake companies and that the loans were from fake companies for cash given by Congress and so it is money laundering.