New Delhi: Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are in a spot of bother after a Delhi court summoned them for a hearing on a petition filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy for the alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds in acquiring ownership of the now-defunct English daily National Herald.
A petition filed by Swami questioned the business transactions done two years ago to acquire the National Herald newspaper.
Other Congress leaders named accused in the case include Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, and Gandhi family loyalists Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey. All of them have been accused of misappropriation of property, breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.
Sonia Gandhi and the fellow party leaders are facing allegations of setting up a front company - the Young Indian - to acquire the Associated Journals Ltd, the publisher of the National Herald. Sonia and Rahul are alleged to have 38 per cent stake in this company. Swamy in his petition alleges that the Congress gave an interest-free loan of Rs 90 crore to the Young Indian in violation of rules which was later written off.
The Congress had then said they were emotionally connected to the paper which was closely linked to former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the freedom movement and was keen to provide employment to journalists of the paper.
The Congress came to the defence of its top leadership. Party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that the leaders have not yet received the court orders. They would take legal advice as and when the summons reach them and give a befitting reply to Swamy, added Singhvi.
The court, while issuing summons said, "From the complaint and evidence led so far it appears YI (Young Indian) was in fact created as a sham or a cloak to convert public money to personal use or as a special purpose vehicle for acquiring control over Rs 2000 crore worth of assets."
Swamy has written to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seeking an investigation against Sonia Gandhi under the Income Tax Act for misusing party funds in the case.
In an embarrassing spot, the Congress has slammed Swamy and accused the BJP of vendetta politics.