The Climbdown From aggressive, defiance Gandhis bow to Majesty of Law
Advisers giving different strategies must have been very confusing to the Mother and Son. But the strategy to turn the criminal case against them into a political battle was unanimously decided at the meeting at 10 Janpath within hours after the Delhi High Court judgement rejecting the Gandhiis’ plea to quash the summons issued by a Magistrate’s court to the Gandhis and five of their flunkeys, and directing them to present themselves as per summons to respond to a criminal complaint by Dr Subrmaniam Swamy.
The stage was thus set for the Mother and Son to present themselves in the Magistrate’s Court, in Patiala House on December 19. According to the sources close to the Gandhis, the two were to walk to the Court at the head of a procession of MPs, party office-bearers and some from States. An impressive entry apart it would have further iterated that the entire party was solidly behind them.
The advisers also calculated that like in the case of Indira Gandhi, Sonia and Rahul would win the sympathy of the people if they refused to take bail. They would then be incarcerated. This would have been a natural corollary to the bravado of Sonia when she said that she was Indira Gandhi’s bahu and was not afraid of anything. The suggestion not to take bail, it is said, was nearly accepted. This is why one heard until a day before the hearing date that sources inform that he won’t take bail. This is why December 19 was awaited with a bit of anxiety and nervousness. .
But two things happened which upset the Gandhis’ plans to campaign to create suspicion of political vendetta by Modi Government and attain the halo of martyrdom by refusing to take bail and from then go on to win the trust and build the support. The plan first got blown up by the person who initially started digging details about dealings of Rahul in particular with National Herald and hit the bull’s eye when he discovered that Rahul had become a director of Young Indian. It had capital of just Rs50 lakhs but acquired assets of Rs2000 crores of National Herald. This opened Pandora’s Box and the original researcher started digging in more intensely.
The original digger revealed himself J. Gopikrishnan, the Special Correspondent working with The Pioneer. It has been revealed now that he started from September 2012 browsing the website of Ministry of Corporate Affairs. He was the man who brought to the world a truth, which most of the media either wished or forced to wish not to exist, that 2G Spectrum Scam did exist and wrote in his newspaper series of well researched articles on the Scam with utmost sincerity and devotion to the call of his duty. Luck always favours people who approach a subject with uninterrupted focus and in the instant case also lady luck was smiling at Gopikrishnan. He found the entry of Rahul Gandhi as one of the Directors of a new Company registered with the name “Young Indian”.
Curious to know further, he dug out more and more and hit a jackpot of information about the business interests of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, et al. He wanted to cover this revelation of Rahul Gandhi being involved in a business entity in his newspaper. Till then, the world was looking at Rahul Gandhi as a Member of Parliament representing Amethi Parliamentary Constituency in Uttar Pradesh and the son of the President of Indian National Congress Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.
An Explosive Expose by S. Gurumurthy
This was the second development that upset the earlier plan to turn a criminal case into political vendetta. It is called by its writer S. Guruurthy as an explosive part two of the conspiracy by the Gandhis and their associates to grab the National Herald (NH), which has so far remained hidden. Uday India and the writer have nothing to do with the article by Gurumurthy. Excerpts have been given.
“The only defence of the Gandhis in the NH scam is that Young Indian Limited (YIL), which owns and controls 99 per cent shares of the real-estate rich Associated Journals Limited (AJL) is after all a charity company registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act 1956, which rules out any personal benefit to the Gandhis. This defence, itself fake, is blown to smithereens by the stunning new evidence, unveiling part two of the conspiracy.
“The Gandhi family formula to park the AJL assets in YIL that claims to be a charity company is only one part of the conspiracy. Only that is known so far.
“The next part, the unknown part two of the conspiracy, is to convert and rid the YIL of its charitable facade and make it a regular company. In part two the UPA government also joins as a conspirator. Within four months of the fake charity YIL grabbing AJL’s properties, the conspirators had stealthily moved the UPA government, which was under their thumb, to frame rules to enable YIL to shed its facade of charity and formally become a real estate company of the Gandhis”
Gurumurthy also alleges that YIL is no genuine charity and it holds AJL shares for its objects which are charitable. It is a facade. YIL’s objects do not include normal charities like relief to poor, or education or medical relief or assisting the disadvantaged sections and the like. Its main object itself is suspicious. Its stated main purpose is to inculcate in youth “commitment to the ideal of democratic and secular society” and make them participate in the “electoral process”.
“It has everything to do with politics and elections and little to do with charity as normally understood. The YIL’s directors report (April 26, 2012) stunningly says that, “the company acquired the loan owed by AJL” (later converted into equity) “in pursuit of its objects”. That is the takeover of the loan given by the Congress party and acquiring of 99 per cent of shares in AJL are in pursuit of democracy and secularism. How can fraud serve either democracy or secularism? Had the AJL’s loan continued to remain payable to the Congress would that have destroyed democracy and secularism? The YIL’s accounts and annual reports suppress both the loan amount (Rs 90.21 cr) and the fact that it was due to the Congress party; that YIL settled the pliant Congress for Rs 50 lakh and made a windfall gain of Rs 80.7 cr; that is it looted the Congress by almost Rs 90 cr; that the loan of Rs 90 cr plus taken over from Congress has made AJL a 99 per cent subsidiary of YIL; that AJL’s thousands of crores with properties had become YIL’s with zero debt; that, in the process, AJL has turned into a subsidiary of YIL; that YIL holds 99 per cent shares of AJL (whose face value is over Rs 90 crore with real value in thousands of crores).The 99 per cent shares of AJL held by YIL is not shown as an asset at all in YIL’s balance sheet but written off as expenditure, to suppress the very fact that AJL is YIL’s subsidiary. Each one of these actions and omissions indicate fraudulent intent. “Between 2010 and now YIL has done nothing in the cause of democracy and secularism…. Its second (August 8, 2013) and third (August 26, 2014) reports repeat, like a broken tape-recorder, that YIL “is still passing through the nascent phase”.
Gurumurthy alleges that attempts were made to get new rules legislated by the UPA government to convert YIL into Commerce, which he says themost devastating piece of evidence which exposes part two of the conspiracy which is the ultimate aim of the conspirators.
“Sibals, Singhvis and Chidambarams say that YIL being a charity company, no personal benefit has accrued to Sonia’s family. This ridiculous defence too has gone for a six now as there is clear proof available that the conspirators had designed to get the law amended to convert the fake charitable YIL and formally make it the personal property of the Gandhis. “The Company law that was in force till April 2014 was passed in 1956 and for 55 years it did not allow conversion of a Section 25 company into a commercial entity. The Act had even provided that, if a Section 25 company was wound up, its properties shall be transferred to such other company having objects similar to its objects and not to its members. It means that if YIL was wound up then the AJL shares would go to a Section 25 company with similar objects.
The law was clear that the public nature of the charity company should not be diluted. But after YIL was incorporated in November 2010 and it acquired 99 per cent shares of AJL by March 2011, suddenly a circular went around from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs of the UPA Government in June 2011 proposing draft guidelines for allowing conversion of a Section 25 company into an ordinary company. The circular asked for the response of lower authorities and stakeholders on or before July 15, 2011. Does it need a seer to link the June 2011 circular and part two of the NH conspiracy to convert YIL into a commercial firm of Gandhis?
But before issue of new guidelines for conversion of Section 25 companies into ordinary companies could be completed two developments occurred. One, the new Company law Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha in December 2011 and with the new Bill in Parliament, the guidelines-making process halted delaying the execution of the conspiracy. The next was the exposure of part one of the conspiracy by Dr Subramanian Swamy in November 2012 and his criminal case in January 2013 which effectively frustrated part two of the conspiracy. But finally the conspirators did get the rules they had proposed in June-July 2011 inserted as rules under the new Company law in April 2014, to make way for part two of the conspiracy.
But then UPA was voted out in May 2012.
In order to confirm that he is the same Rahul Gandhi and to elicit his views, Gopikrishnan wrote on October O8, 2012 at 1.46 PM to Rahul Gandhi asking him about the company called Young Indian, “whether Rahul Gandhi was its Director? Was it a new newspaper? Or the company was for any other purpose”. He waited for a reply from Rahul Gandhi but Rahul Gandhi did not reply till the time he had to file the story. Finally the story appeared under his byline on the first page of “The Pioneer” with a heading “Sonia—Rahul set to revive media interests”.
The story went on to elaborate about the new company thus “Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi have floated a private company called Young Indian, which is expected to relaunch the defunct party-owned newspaper the National Herald. The new company Young Indian is registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act.
The story further said that Sonia and Rahul have 38 per cent shares each in the new venture, registered at the address of the National Herald building in New Delhi. The rest of the shares are equally divided between Gandhi family’s trusted Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes. Apart from these four persons, former journalist Suman Dubey and technocrat Sam Pitroda are the other directors in this venture”.
After possibly having read the story that day morning, Office of Shri Rahul Gandhi, MP wrote back to Gopikrishnan accusing him of not waiting for a reply from them and against the tenets of good press ethics he chose to carry a story, which was factually incorrect. The mail claimed to further put the matter straight. “For the record: Young Indian is a company registered and holding a license granted under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. As a Section 25 company, Young Indian, is a not-for-profit company and does not have commercial operations. The activities of the company are in the public domain. Anyone who chooses to can inspect the Objects of the Company. The company has no intention of starting any newspaper”.
This last sentence is worth repeating. “The company has no intention of starting any newspaper”. It was destiny perhaps but at that Rahul Gandhi was not aware at that time that this very single sentence would land him in trouble one day. Having received the reply from Rahul Gandhi, on October 11, 2012, The Pioneer dutifully carried his version of the story with a title “No plans to revive National Herald. Rahul also says Young Indian is a not-for profit venture”.
After such exchanges, Gopikrishnan had to choose between two options—either he had to just forget about the story or he had to further do research as to why Rahul Gandhi wanted to launch a Company that too with his mother, AICC office bearers and the family’s close friends. He chose to dig on.
All along these research activities, Gopikrishnan was keeping
Dr. Subramanian Swamy informed of the developments on daily basis. Dr. Swamy, the self-appointed crusader against Corruption, just lapped up the issue, which was otherwise dearer to his heart (for obvious reasons). During the last week of October 2012, Sandhya Jain and Kanchan Gupta of “Niti Central”—a daily news portal that claims to have got Right of Centre perspective and was launched in August 2012—came out with shareholding patterns of both AGL and Young Indian through series of articles.
Will the Gandhis acquire martyrdom if they are incarcerated?
The comparison with Indira Gandhi is facile. Yes, Sonia is the Bahu of Indira, and in fact very much liked by her, but Gandhi the senior was pursued by Charan then Home Minister, and not by a private citizen. Singh was known for his obstinacy, doggedness and spirit of vengeance which made him behave irrationally. He is reported to have been an avid reader of report on Nierenberg Trials. So it was a political vendetta by Charan Singh. Sonia and Rahul are in the dock because of a complaint by Dr Suramaniam Swamy in his individual capacity. No agency helped him collect information, nor ED or any other wing of the government helped. What is there to suspect political vendetta.
Secondly more importantly there were no criminal charges or even suspicion of any embezzlement by Indira Gandhi,, unlike in the case of the Bahu and the grandson. It makes all the difference between the cases of ma-inlaw and the Bahu.
Then the latest revelations (see side story) by Gurumurthy which reveal new details that make it more difficult for the Gandhis to extricate themselves from the web of charges against them. Nor are they being pursued by Modi or Rajnath Singh but the Courts. There is vast difference between the case against Saas and the one against bahu.
Martyrdom is attained by individuals with clean image, not by those whose reputation has been tarnished. Even if they are acquitted for lack of evidence, suspicion will be difficult to overcome. Lets see what’s in their destiny?
Any proof of political vendetta
After getting Bail, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi addressed party leaders and workers at 24 Akbar Road. While Sonia was a bit restraint, Rahul charged Modi of trying to cower down opposition and said, ‘Narendra Modi levels false allegations and thinks the opposition will bow down. Congress and I will not do so.’
Has anyone heard Modi making allegations regarding National Herald? It was the first time that during Bihar elections he criticised his rivals. And got the drubbing of his lifetime. One does not think he will now resort to such tactics.
The most clinching argument against political vendetta is that the case was filed in 2013, when there was no trace of Modi or BJP government. UPA ruled the roost. How can then charge of political vendetta stick. There is no evidence that Swamy was aided by any government agencies in gathering information.
The attack that Rahul has been making to ridicule and degrade Modi is reaching a stage that people will just not listen to Rahul. Like beyond a point too much praise turns into flattery, too much criticism makes wonder if the critic has some axe to grind.
Like Charan Singh’s pathological animosity against Indira Gandhi made people forget the past and vote her back to power. Rahul’s obsession against Modi could help him retain his gaddi.
On November 1, 2012, Dr. Swamy held a Press Meet where he released the documents about the new Company formed by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, et al. Dr. Swamy targeted Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi raising questions over acquisition of a company that published the now-defunct National Herald newspaper to which Congress gave a loan of over Rs. 90 Crore. This triggered a series of notices from Rahul Gandhi and others to Dr. Swamy. (Some allege that the notices only appeared as news items in newspapers and nobody actually send a notice to Dr. Swamy).
Whatever be the truth, more digging by Dr Swamy led to more damning articles on allegedly financial fraud committed, allegedly by the Gandhis. And not unexpectedly, Dr. Swamy filed a complaint in the second week of January, 2013 before the Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Courts located in the same premises of 2G Special Court, with a prayer to sanction prosecution of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Motilal Vohra, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey, Sam Pitroda and Young Indian (the Company) under Sections 403, 406, 420 of CrPC read with Section 120B of IPC. These Sections relate to fraud, cheating criminal misappropriation and criminal breach of trust committed by the Accused Persons against The Congress Party and The Associated Journals Ltd.
The first draft of the complaint was drafted by RSS ideologue S. Gurumurthy. He was part of Action Committee Against Corruption in India (ACACI), an organisation floated by likeminded people who strive for removing corruption from the country. The complaint slowly and slowly—at snail’s pace – moved up in the register; got numbered; and finally assigned to Ms. Gomati Manocha, Metropolitan Magistrate—02 of New Delhi District.
The rest is known. The Metropolitan Magistrate started hearing the case with a number of adjournments in between running into a long period of around 18 months from the time of filing the complaint.
Finally on June 26, 2014, Ms. Gomati Manocha announced her speaking Order thus starting a judicial process of summoning the accused Persons so that the process of pre-trial proceedings may start unhindered. The operating part of her Order clearly gives whole crux of the case and reads as “From the complaint and the evidence led so far it appears that YI (short form for Young Indian) infact 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 crores worth of assets of The AJL (short form for The Associated Journal Ltd) and since all the accused persons have allegedly acted in consortium with each other to achieve the said nefarious purpose/design, there are sufficient grounds for proceeding against all of them. It goes without saying that guilt of an accused is determined after trial when the burden of proof is discharged beyond reasonable doubt”.
She further elaborated in her Order that “This is only the stage of summoning of the accused. When the accused persons appear before the court they shall be at liberty to refute the allegations of the complainant, cross-examine the complainant’s witnesses and to lead evidence in their defence”. Finally, the operating portion of her Order says that “However, as the complainant has established a prime facie case against the accused u/s 403, 406 and 420 read with section 120B of I.P.C., hence, let the accused No. 1 to 6 namely Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Mr. Rahul Gandhi, Shri Moti Lal Vohra, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda be summoned for August 7, 2014. Let the accused No. 7 (Young Indian) be summoned through it’s authorised representative for the same date”.
We know that the Gandhis went to the High Court requesting that summons be quashed as there was no prima facie case against them. It took a long time but their petition was turned down. Once the hearing starts from February 20, the whole country would come to know about the said dealings. The danger is that even if the case against them fails, but if it generates too much suspicion in the people’s mind, Gandhis would be lossers politically. The Indian rural voter does not expect there will be receipts for such payments. He knows this by his own experience. And as it is he got disillusioned with them due to series of scams in the UPA government, but now if they get doubtful about handling of the National Herald, directly by them, voters might not fall to the political vendetta charge made by the Gandhis and then could show their disgust as they did last year.
Politics after all is about perception. Now an intense attempt is reportedly been made to plug the lacunae in the formation of the Young Indian. First AJL has issued notice for EGM to convert the AJL, so far limited company into a Section 8 company, which means not for a profit company. But how does that prove that its money was not used so far. It is learnt that the Gandhis might go to the Supreme Court demanding that the ‘criminal intent’ words be removed from the operative part of the Delhi High Court. But such measures for limiting damage might be too late.
The Gandhis high-pitch orchestration against the Government and stalling of Parliament has already helped the dissemination of their alleged shenanigans in National Herald all over India. This could ricochet and cost them heavy. Rahul Gandhi can tell off Modi but he must reflect on the reality. Whatever be the outcome, the fact is that both he and his mother are accused of cheating and breach of Trust and are being tried as any ordinary ‘accused’ in a court of law.
The fact that one who was for 10 years virtually the ruler of India and the other who aspires to be one, to stand in the dock for 15 minutes and seek bail is punishment by itself.
The reality of the situation ended the grandiose plans made by their advisers.
By VIjay Dutt