The Congress is not protesting to save democracy, but to save Rahul Gandhi’s properties worth ₹ 2,000 crore, Union Minister Smriti Irani said today on the massive protests in support of Rahul Gandhi as he reached the office of the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering case. She said the protests are an attempt to pressurise investigating agencies and that never before has a political family attempted to hold investigative agencies to ransom to protect “ill-gotten wealth”.
“Congress leaders have taken to the streets to pressurise an investigating agency openly because their corruption has been exposed,” she said. She asserted that nobody is above the law, “not even Rahul Gandhi”.
Explaining the ED’s case to the media, the Minister said a company called Associated Journals Limited (AJL) was founded in 1930 with the purpose of publishing a newspaper. It had 5,000 freedom fighters as shareholders but is now under the Gandhi family’s control, she said.
She alleged that the ownership of the company was transferred to one family so that it doesn’t publish newspapers but become a real estate business instead.
“This company had incurred debts of ₹ 90 crore in 2008 and decided that it would enter the property business. Another company named Young India was constituted in 2010 with an initial capital of ₹ five lakh and the Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi was made its Director. Mr Gandhi alone had a 75 per cent stake in the company, the rest was with his mother Sonia Gandhi and Congress leaders like Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes. Nine crore shares of AJL, which is 99 per cent of the total shares, are then transferred to Young India. Congress party then gave ₹ 90 crore as a loan to AJL which doesn’t need to be returned,” she said.
She asked if those who had donated to the Congress party so that it could participate in democratic activities had intended their money to go to a company owned by the Gandhi family.
“This company wasn’t set up to do social work. It took a license under section 25 of the Companies Act at the time of its founding under which it can only do charity work. But in 2016, Young India accepted that it hadn’t done any charity work in the six years of its existence,” she said.
The company is set up to do social work but it works for the Gandhi family instead, Ms Irani alleged. She appealed to Congress leaders who are in Delhi in support of Rahul Gandhi to ask him what his connection is with Dotex Merchandise Private Limited.
Dotex Merchandise Private Limited is linked to a havala entry operator in Kolkata which gives cheques in exchange for cash. The Financial Intelligence Unit has red-flagged this company’s financial transactions, Ms Irani said.
“Is it true that this company has relations with companies that are owned by Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra?” she said.
She pointed to a sentence from a 2019 Delhi High Court judgement that said, “The entire transaction of transferring of shares of AJL to Young India was nothing but a clandestine and surreptitious transfer of the lucrative interest into the premises of Young India”.