Smriti aims tax and hug gun at Rahul

Union minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday accused Rahul Gandhi of siphoning off taxpayers' money as the BJP brought up Delhi High Court's ruling in the National Herald case to target the Congress chief again.

By Our Special Correspondent
  • Published 12.09.18
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Smriti Irani in New Delhi on Tuesday. (PTI)

New Delhi: Union minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday accused Rahul Gandhi of siphoning off taxpayers' money as the BJP brought up Delhi High Court's ruling in the National Herald case to target the Congress chief again.

"Rahul Gandhi is quick to hug Prime Minister Narendra Modi but he would run a mile when it comes to an income tax officer," the textiles minister said.

The minister's comments, a reference to the Congress leader's hug in the Lok Sabha during the July no-confidence debate, came a day after the high court dismissed petitions from Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Oscar Fernandes challenging the reopening of their tax assessments for the year 2011-12.

The Congress hit back, saying Smriti was levelling "foolish allegations". "Smriti Irani is out of favour of the PM and by abusing people is trying to gain relevance," party leader Randeep Surjewala said.

Surjewala said the Modi government had ordered the tax department to reopen the tax returns of the Congress leadership after eight years, unnerved by the prospect of impending defeat in four poll-bound states and the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Smriti said that in 2010-11 the Gandhis had formed the non-profit company Young Indian that, she claimed, had later bought Associated Journals, which was engaged in a profit-making business.

"Rahul Gandhi has a lot to answer in the case," Smriti said, alleging the tax assessments revealed "deep-seated corruption" in the Congress.

On Monday, the BJP had fielded party spokesperson Sambit Patra to target the Nehru-Gandhis.

The income tax cases against the Nehru-Gandhi family members have arisen out of a probe into the National Herald newspaper case, filed by BJP MP Subramanian Swamy. Sonia, Rahul and others have been accused of conspiring to misappropriate funds by paying just Rs 50 lakh, through which Young Indian had obtained the right to recover Rs 90 crore that the Associated Journals Ltd owed to the Congress.

"A company whose job is not for profit or loss, why is it buying a commercial company? Rahul Gandhi buys Rs 90 crore loan in Rs 50 lakh. He bought the loan of a company whose job is to run a newspaper, but then he says the company cannot run the newspaper," Smriti said.

"After buying this loan, Rahul Gandhi, his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Sonia Gandhi become owners of a company that has an income of thousands of crores."