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National Herald case: ED questions Mallikarjun Kharge

The agency needed some clarification for which the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha was called for questioning: Official
Mallikarjun Kharge.
Mallikarjun Kharge.
File photo

Imran Ahmed Siddiqui   |   New Delhi   |   Published 12.04.22, 01:47 AM

The Enforcement Directorate on Monday questioned senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge in a money-laundering probe linked to the National Herald case that involves members of the Gandhi family.

“Several top leaders of Congress are under the scanner of the ED and income tax in the alleged graft case involving National Herald and Young India and Associated Journals Ltd (AJL). Kharge had once held the position of office-bearer with Young India and Associated Journals Ltd,” an ED official said.

The agency, he said, needed some clarification for which the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha was called for questioning. “His statement was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA),” the official said.

The case is based on a complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy before a trial court in 2012 in connection with the National Herald case. He had alleged that Congress leaders were involved in cheating and breach of trust in the acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd by Young India.

It was alleged that Young India, which was incorporated in November 2010 with a capital of Rs 50 lakh, had acquired almost all shareholdings of AJL, which was running the National Herald newspaper. It was also alleged that the Gandhis had misappropriated AJL’s assets while transferring their shares to the newly formed Young India.

After the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014, it had ordered reopening of the National Herald case.

Besides this, ED has been probing several high profile cases involving politicians, mostly belonging to Opposition parties. Opposition leaders have long accused the Centre of letting probe agencies, especially ED, on their leaders to intimidate or malign them.

The ED is also investigating the AgustaWestland chopper deal, the INX Media and Aircel-Maxis cases in which senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram and his son Karti are accused.

Among Congress politicians whom the CBI and the ED have raided or arrested in corruption cases over the past two-and-a-half-years are former Union minister P. Chidambaram and Karnataka state Congress president D.K. Shivakumar. Shivakumar had overseen the herding of 44 Gujarat MLAs in Karnataka to prevent poaching by the BJP ahead of a Rajya Sabha election that the late Congress leader Ahmed Patel eventually won.

In 2017, the CBI and the ED had conducted raids on properties owned by RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s family members, including the then Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav. Tejashwi and his sister Misa Bharti are facing charges of possessing disproportionate assets in the form of benami properties.

The action by the central agencies had also resulted in the collapse of the Grand Alliance government in Bihar.

The ED is also probing Rajasthan ambulance scam against Congress leader and state chief minister Ashok Gehlot, sand mining scam against former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, irregularities in construction of statues and memorials against Mayawati and Narada sting case against Trinamul Congress leaders.

It is also probing the Agusta Wasteland case and money-laundering charges against Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya.

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