The last gasp of National Herald

Subramanian Swamy 

To begin with, and briefly: In 2011, Ms. Sonia Gandhi and her son, Mr. 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 per cent shares each) in the company, while Congress party treasurer Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandez held the remaining 24 Congress party Treasurer. If any person or group holds more than 74 per cent of a company’s equity, the company can be virtually administered without caring for other shareholders. Thus, Young Indian is a Gandhi-Maino private enterprise that is directly administered by the duo.

Now, we come to the brazen corrupt plot of the duo to acquire another well-endowed entity in terms of assets. The Associated Journals Private Ltd. (AJPL) is that another company. AJPL—the owner-publisher of National Herald, Navjivan, and Quami Awaz newspapers—was set up by prominent Congress leaders in 1938. Jawaharlal 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, and some places like on the prime land in Delhi and Lucknow, built massive offices on public donations for the publication of its newspapers.

But, like all Nehru-Gandhi-Maino proclaimed public “enterprises,” AJPL’s main mission of publishing newspapers soon ended in failure. By the 1970s, all three newspapers were running in terrible losses; they failed to pay employees’ wages. Labor agitation forced the owners to close the operations in a lock-out. The shareholders’ list by then had got depleted by death, 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. But he failed to disclose this in his sworn affidavit filed as a candidate for Lok Sabha in 2009.

In his sworn assets statement, he declared as ‘Nil’ his shares in companies, when in fact he at least owned three lakh shares in AJPL, and controlling shares in Back-Ops company that he set up during the NDA regime. The Back-Ops ownership was later handed over to sister Priyanka by a backdated letter in 2009, who then promptly wound up the company in 2011—maintaining the family tradition of failed enterprises. The assets acquired following Back-Ops liquidation went into Priyanka’s folder.

In 2010, “Operation AJPL acquisition” began by Young Indian and executed in four steps:

(i) Step 1: Moribund AJPL obtains an unsecured zero interest loan of Rs 90 plus crore from the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in 2011 with no stated purpose (but now the spin given by Congress spokesman Janardan Dwivedi is that the loan was for the emotional attachment of Congress party for 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 shareholder and Director in Young Indian, the prospective buyer of AJPL!

(ii) Step 2: Young Indian enters the picture with a proposal made by Young Indian Director Motilal Vora to AJPL president Motilal Vora that he would 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.

(iii) Step 3: AJPL, acting on 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.

Who cares that Young Indian is not a media company which 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, Rahul Gandhi transfers 262,411 of his three 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 down to size, with Ahmed Patel ensuring 24×7 media publicity to scare the wits out of Mr. Vadra.

(v) Step 4: The seven-storey Herald House is now securely with Young Indian. The Ma-beta duo illegally opens Herald House, which is in the prime area of New Delhi, for renting. A Passport Seva Kendra rents a large space of two floors, and Minister of External Affairs S.M. Krishna inaugurates the office. Huge, six months’ rent is collected by Young Indian from multinational companies which are soon to start offices in Herald House. The acquisition process is now complete.

Thus the deal was to grab the Rs 1,600-crore worth Herald House and other properties of National Herald and 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 obtained from AICC as an unsecured, zero-interest loan and now written off by the AICC.

Now what illegalities have been committed?

1. The deal is a sham, bogus, and a violation of several laws including Companies, the 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., has been illegally sold to builders of luxury skyscrapers, malls, and housing for Congress Ministers. This is a 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 10, Janpath, New Delhi, is government-provided accommodation 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, and GD Birla, as also some defunct Kolkata-based companies. Hence the Board Meeting of AJPL handing over the company to Young Indian is a violation of the Companies Act and is an offence as well as a fraud on the public.

I urge, therefore, an immediate probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office and CBI 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.

Mr. Rahul Gandhi also committed perjury when he told a lie in his 2009 nomination paper for Lok Sabha that he owned ‘NIL’ shares when he owned in fact over three lakh shares of AJPL in 2009.

The bottom line is that National Herald—for which his great grandfather 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 objectives do not include bring out a newspaper. Rahul Gandhi himself told the PTI on October 9, 2012, after swallowing AJPL, “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 5,000-crore of property has been obtained.

Ironically, Herald House is built on a kabaristan on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg. The Mama-son duo knows the Biblical saying—from dust to dust!

Posted on : 11-15-2012

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