In a free-wheeling interview with this correspondent, former Finance Minister and Congress leader P. Chidambaram claimed that the National Herald case against Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi was a bogus one as Gandhis had not taken even a single paisa.
Q. We have seen BJP leaders’ senior cabinet ministers coming and doing press conferences, seeing that if nothing is wrong with the party with National Herald case, what to hide? And why show of strength by the Congress Party if ED has called you for the questioning?
A. The very amusing argument, suppose a private complaint is filed against you before a magistrate, the magistrate doesn’t issue summon, not even magistrate send it to a police station for the investigation, then ED summon you and take you to the ED office and asks questions, and we cannot protest? Will you not say, why are you taking me? Where is the FIR to rusticating the privacy? We will not ask questions? Whenever the ED is questioning, I will go and just sit?
Q. Question has been asked upon 90 Cr. From where did you get that 90 Cr, which was moved from one company to another? Also, several questions are being raised on AGL, Young India. Why did you take that money from party’s fund?
A. Do you know the facts in this case? Or are you going by whatever read in the newspapers or whatever some government agency has given you and handed it out? Please read the facts in the case. The income tax cases pending in the Supreme Court, it went through a Commissioner. Now if you know the facts of the case, I can answer. But I can’t answer fiction pieces. The facts are the following and I will simplify it to you.
Congress Party over a period of many years, gave loans to Associated Journals which owns and publishes National Herald. The loans accumulated to 90 crore that is irrecoverable. So, it sold the loan to the company Young India. The Young India becomes a creditor and Associated Journals a debtor. There is a loan of 90 Cr. of Young India to Associated Journals. Now, the loan is practically irrecoverable so the loan will be converted to equity. It’s just a conversion of loan into equity, so where is the money laundering?
Q. Now comes the second part of the question. You said there were worth of 2000 Cr. of assets with National Herald, please tell us where has that gone?
A. It has not gone anywhere. Let’s assume the assets of Associated Journals are worth 2000 Cr. Let’s assume that for a moment. Associated channel owned the assets, and wanted it even last year. The asset has not moved anywhere, it still belongs to the Associated Journals company. And in that company Young India is a shareholder, it may be a major shareholder. But it’s only a shareholder and the assets are not moved to Young India. Young India is a Section 25 company, it cannot distribute even one Re of the income. First of all, it has no income and there is no money to distribute, so, Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi have not taken even one rupee from Young India as it is Section 25 company. So, you need to read about Section 25. And not one paisa and one rupee has moved to anywhere.
Q. BJP says that you went and approached the court, but you didn’t get any relief from the court. If there is nothing to hide, there is nothing wrong, there is no transaction then why the ED is questioning Rahul Gandhi, and next will obviously be Sonia Gandhi?
A. Please understand, there are different cases, what is before the Supreme court is an Income tax violation. It is not an offence relating to Prevention of Money Laundering Act. As I said this case was closed in 2015, by the then CBI director and other officers. Now somebody filed a private complaint before the magistrate under Section 200 of the Crpc.
As far as we know the magistrate has not issued summons on the private complaint. No magistrate has sent any direction to police station to investigate the matter. Now where is the scheduled offence, where is the FIR? Please understand the fundamental of the PMLA. There must be a scheduled offence and an FIR by the police, CBI or CID. Only if a FIR is registered, ED can pick up that case for investigation. Here from last several days ED is questioning Rahul Gandhi unconstitutionally as FIR is not registered and we don’t have the copy of that FIR.
Q. At least a positive thing which people say that we can see a new ray of hope in the party, at least party united and firmly standing with Rahul Gandhi. Ultimately, there is some action in the party after a long time and that’s the only good news for the party.
A. The good news for the country is that people are now aware to the fact, that government is misusing the laws, misusing the agencies. Now the PMLA is a law and is applied in the whole country. Now tell me one case with the PMLA has been applied against a BJP leader and a BJP minister. Tell me one case where the BJP has used the PMLA in BJP-ruled states like Haryana, UP, MP and Karnataka. This law is being selectively applied only to opposition ruled states and on the opposition leaders. The people are aware of this now and that has been the biggest gain of summoning Rahul Gandhi.