Author: Subramanian Swamy
The daily explosion of scams and their nightly celebration over noisy TV shows have dulled the collective response. No wonder, the biggest of them — the Gandhi family’s illegal takeover of the properties of National Herald — has gone largely unnoticed
To begin with, and briefly: In 2011, Ms Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi, both MPs and hence public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act, had floated under Section 25 of the Companies Act, a company called Young Indian Private Ltd.
The Ma-Beta corrupt duo hold 76 per cent of the total equity (38% shares each) in the company, while Motilal Vora, the Congress party Treasurer and Oscar Fernandes, held the remaining 24 per cent. If any person or group holds more than 74 per cent of a company’s equity, then that company can be virtually administered without caring for other shareholders. Thus, Young Indian is a Gandhi private enterprise that is to be directly administered by the duo.
Now we come to the brazen corrupt plot of the duo to acquire another well endowed asset-wise. The Associated Journals Private Ltd (AJPL) is that other company. AJPL is the owner-publisher of National Herald, Navjivan, and Quami Awaz newspapers, set up by prominent Congress leaders in 1938. Jawarharlal Nehru became President of the company.
Because its object was to publish a newspaper, APJL acquired at concessional rates from Central and state governments high-value real estate properties in Delhi, Mumbai, Bhopal, Indore, Haryana, and several places in Uttar Pradesh. In some cities, like Delhi and Lucknow, it built massive offices with the help of public donations for the publishing its newspapers.
But like all Nehru-Gandhi “enterprises”, AJPL’s main mission of publishing newspapers soon ended in failure. By 1970s, all three newspapers were running in terrible losses, and even failed to pay its employees their wages and salaries. Labour agitation forced the owners to declare lockout. The shareholders’ list by then had got depleted by death, or alienation, or sale and thus AJPL came fully into the grip of the Nehru dynasty with family retainer Motilal Vora as chowkidar-president.
By 2008 or a little earlier, Rahul Gandhi was inducted as a shareholder in AJPL. Rahul Gandhi neglected disclosing this crucial fact in his sworn affidavit filed as a candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha election.
In his sworn assets statement, he has declared as ‘Nil’ his shares in companies, when in fact he owned at least 3 lakh shares in AJPL, as well as the controlling shares in Back-Ops, a company that he set up in the early 2000s. Back Ops’ ownership was later handed over to sister Priyanka by a back-dated letter in 2009, who then promptly wound up the company in 2011 — maintaining the family tradition of failed enterprises. The assets acquired following Back-Opsliquidation went into Priyanka’s folder.
In 2010, “Operation AJPL acquisition” began by Young Indian and executed in four steps:
1) Moribund AJPL obtains an unsecured zero interest loan of more than Rs 90 crore from the All India Congress Committee in 2011 with no stated purpose (but now the spin given by Congress spokesman Devendra Dwidedi is that the loan was to fulfill the “emotional attachment” of the Congress party towards National Herald). Section 13A of the Income Tax Act read with Section 29 A to C of the Representation of the People Act prohibits any political party from giving loans to commercial or related enterprises. Note: Motilal Vora is President of AJPL which received the loan, he is Treasurer of AICC which gave the loan, and he is also a share holder and Director in Young Indian, the prospective buyer of AJPL!
2) Young Indian enters the picture with a proposal made by Young Indian Director Motilal Vora to AJPL president Motilal Vora that he will speak to AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora to unburden AJPL of the loans due to AICC by a financial derivative of transfer of liability to Young Indian. Note: It helps that Sonia Gandhi is AICC president and Rahul Gandhi is AICC senior-most General Secretary.
3) AJPL, acting by a mere Board Resolution dated February 20, 2012 and not by a Shareholders Meeting, sells by transfer of shares to Young Indian for a mere Rs 50 lakh. It is casually overlooked that Young Indian is not a media company which therefore cannot buy a media company that has got land allotted by government and obtained bank loans on the condition that it is a media company producing newspapers.
Before buying AJPL, RG transfers 2,62,411 of his 3 lakh shares in AJPL to sister Priyanka. Robert Vadra is left out of the deal because Aruna Roy will see to it that Kejriwal will cut him to size, with Ahmed Patel ensuring 24×7 media publicity to scare the wits out of Mr Vadra.
4) The seven-storey Herald House on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg in New Delhi is now securely with Young Indian. Mother and son decide to rent its space out to government departments and blue chip companies. The Ministry of External Affairs takes two whole floors to open a Passport Seva Kendra which is inaugurated by the then Minister, SM Krishna. Companies interested in renting space are charged six months’ rent in advance.
Thus, the deal was to grab Herald House, whose market worth is reportedly Rs 1,600 crore, and other properties of National Herald/Quami Awaz in Delhi, and another Rs 3,400 crore in different parts of UP, Maharasthra and MP for which Young Indian made a commitment to pay a mere Rs 50 lakh to AICC for owning the Rs 90 crore odd obtained from AICC as an unsecured zero interest loan and now written off by the AICC.
Litany of illegalities
Now what illegalities have been committed?
1) The deal is a sham, bogus, and a violation of several laws including Companies, Income-Tax Act, Indian Penal Code Sections 405-08, 420, 467, and 193; Election Law, and Government Residence Allotment Rules.
2) The un-built on land in Mumbai, Indore, Bhopal, Punchkula, Lucknow etc., etc., have been illegally sold to builders of luxury sky scrapers, mall, and housing for Congress Ministers.This is violation of the land allotment orders and a criminal breach of trust.
3) Young Indian filed statements with the RoC in March 2012 disclosing that the shareholders meetings were held in Sonia Gandhi’s Government allotted 10, Janpath . This is in violation of the law since the 10, Janpath, New Delhi is Government provided accommodation for residence, which cannot be used for commercial purposes and business.
4) More than 80 per cent of the persons mentioned in the 2011 shareholders list filed with the RoC are deceased, such prominent persons such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sharda Prasad, GD Birla etc., as also some defunct Kolkata based companies. Hence the Board Meeting of AJPL handing over the company to Young Indian is violation of the Companies Act and is an offence as well as a fraud on the public.
I urge therefore an immediate SFIO/CBI probe into this dubious stinking deal between Young India and The Associated Journals, and from the Election Commission for the illegality of the AICC I giving a loan to a private company.
Rahul Gandhi also committed perjury when he stated in his election nomination in 2009 that he owned ‘NIL’ shares when he owned in fact over 3 lakh shares of AJPL in 2009.
The bottom line is that National Herald, for which great grand-father Nehru pompously said:”I will sell Anand Bhavan but never National Herald”, has been strangulated to death by Rahul Gandhi and his mother. Young Indian’s objectives do not include bring out a newspaper. Rahul Gandhi himself told the PTI on October 9, 2012 after swallowing AJPL that “We have no intention to start or revive a newspaper”. The last gasp of National Herald, Navjivan, and Quami Awaz has been heard. For just Rs 50 lakh, Rs 5000 crore of property have been obtained.
Ironically, Herald House is built on a cemetery on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg. The Mama-son duo know of the Biblical saying — from dust to dust.
(The writer is president, Janata Party)