Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Thursday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) office for questioning in the National Herald case. In the meantime, the Congress, including its state unit, is demonstrating nationwide in support of the party leader. Her interrogation had been postponed earlier because she was admitted to the hospital after testing positive for coronavirus.
Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress, was summoned by the ED to record a statement on July 21 in connection with a money laundering investigation related to the National Herald newspaper.
Gandhi, who was scheduled to testify on June 23, had requested a postponement in a letter to the ED so that she could fully recuperate from Covid-related difficulties. She was first summoned by ED on June 8.
When Sonia Gandhi was hospitalised, the ED had questioned Sonia Gandhi’s son and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi in this case for over 50 hours in several sessions spanning five days. He was questioned for 3 straight days between June 13 to June 15. Again, Rahul Gandhi was questioned on June 20 and 21. Even then, the Congress party had demonstrated nationwide.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST SONIA AND RAHUL GANDHI IN NATIONAL HERALD CASE
For the first time ever, Sonia Gandhi is being questioned in connection with an investigation into the alleged transfer of party funds to Associated Journals Limited, the publisher of the National Herald, and the operation of Young Indian Pvt Ltd, in which she holds a majority stake. Her son is also being questioned in connection with the same allegations.
The Congress-supported Young Indian Private Limited, which owns the National Herald newspaper, was accused of financial irregularities in a charge sheet that was submitted by the Income Tax (IT) department. Since 2016, the IT department has been looking into this case. In recent developments, a trial court took cognizance of an Income Tax department investigation into Young Indian, leading to the ED registering a new case under the criminal provisions of the PMLA. The ED then made the decision to call the Gandhis in for an interrogation.
In the past, we have instances where close Gandhi family members’ names were linked to alleged corruption cases directly or indirectly. Have a look at some of those instances.
The first significant corruption case in Independent India was the Jeep Scandal of 1948. VK Krishna Menon, the then-high commissioner of India to Britain, disregarded convention and signed an agreement for the acquisition of 80 lakh rupees worth of Army jeeps with a foreign company. Despite the majority of the money being paid up in advance, the army only received 155 jeeps. It was alleged that the then Prime Minister coerced the government to accept these jeeps.
The Mundhra scandal came to the limelight in 1957 which involved the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) purchasing ailing companies shares for Rs 12.4 million without the investment committee’s consent. Calcutta-based Industrialist and stock speculator Haridas Mundhra persuaded the government-owned LIC to invest in the shares of six of his struggling companies. T.T. Krishnamachari, the country’s former finance minister, resigned as a result of the Mundhra affair. According to the allegations, LIC lost most of the money since the investment was made under governmental pressure.
INDIRA GANDHI AND SANJAY GANDHI
In the Maruti scandal in 1974, Indira Gandhi’s name came up, which involved her son receiving a licence to produce passenger cars in the country’s then-strict regulations.
In 1975, the then prime minister Indira Gandhi was found guilty of election corruption—a charge she vehemently denied—and she was disqualified from office for six years.
A $200 million deal was given to the Hong Kong-based Kuo Oil Co in 1976 to accept future deliveries at the current rate notwithstanding dropping oil prices. Rs. 13 crore were lost by the government. It is alleged that Indira and Sanjay were scheduled to receive the funds.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and at least four other members of her Cabinet were detained in Delhi in October 1977, as a result of corruption allegations in two different cases. According to reports one of the cases involved forcing companies to obtain jeeps for election work in many parliamentary constituencies, while the other involved the awarding of an oil drilling contract to a French company working to exploit oil reserves off the coast of Mumbai.
In 1987, the Bofors Scandal surfaced. The Bofors scandal was one of the worst political scandals to hit independent India. Rajiv Gandhi, the prime minister at the time, was accused of taking bribes. According to allegations, the Swedish company Bofors AB paid Rajiv Gandhi and other important defence officials Rs. 64 crore in kickbacks in exchange for getting the contract to deliver India’s 155 mm field howitzers to India. Rajiv Gandhi suffered a great deal of public humiliation as a result of the Bofors controversy, and he lost the 1989 general elections as a result.
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