Everybody must blame a dead man whom the law can never reach! This seems to be the strategy of the politicians of the Indian National Congress (INC), whom the Enforcement Directorate (ED) is questioning in suspicion of money laundering via the media house that runs their party mouthpiece, National Herald. All INC politicians have distanced themselves from financial transactions. According to ED sources, the party's interim president Sonia Gandhi, her son and former party president Rahul Gandhi, former Leader of Opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and former Union Minister Pawan Bansal said that every decision related to the transaction was taken by Motilal Vora although they could not provide proof in support of their claim.
Notably, both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi had blamed now-dead INC leader Motilal Vora for alleged financial irregularities in National Herald. Rahul Gandhi and his mother both had washed their hands off having any personal knowledge about the transactions which are being probed for money laundering. They told the ED officials that the former Congress Treasurer was responsible for all transactions related to the acquisition of Associated Journals Limited (AJL) by Young Indian. AJL publishes National Herald, the party’s mouthpiece masquerading as a newspaper.
Kharge is the only employee of Young India Pvt Ltd. The ED had to summon him for questioning as quite a few transactions of the media house involve him. According to ED sources, during the investigation of the case, the agency that probes financial fraud found several shell or fake companies through which money meant for the media house, Young India, was routed. It is worth Rs 90 crore of transactions by the company, the ED suspects.
The first ED search operation at the office of National Herald was conducted on 3 August. After the raid, the ED had sealed the office of Young India Pvt Ltd, the company that runs National Herald. Thereafter, the INC politician condemned the BJP and accused the country of "killing democracy".
The ED questioned Kharge again in the National Herald case on 4 August, this time for 8 h. The agency questioned him at the office of Young India. The interrogation began around 12:30 PM and also searched the premises of the media company.
Kharge left the office at around 8:30 PM. He raised the question in the Rajya Sabha on the summonses of the ED that day. He had asked whether it was appropriate to summon his colleagues and him during the proceedings of the parliament. Union Minister Piyush Goyal clarified if someone did something wrong, the agencies would take action and no parliamentary immunity could be offered to a suspect.
Motilal Vora was a veteran INC politician. He was the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh twice. He was also the treasurer of the party from 2000 to 2018 (18 years). He died on 21 December 2021.
Earlier in his life, Vora had joined the INC in 1970. He became an MLA on an INC ticket in 1972. He was elected MLA in 1977 and 1980. He was the first minister of state for higher education in Arjun Singh's cabinet. He was made a cabinet minister in 1983. He was also the chairman of Madhya Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation in the period 1981-84.
Vora was made the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh on 13 February 1985. He resigned on 13 February 1988 and took charge of the Ministry of Health-Family Welfare and Civil Aviation under the union government of the time on 14 February 1988. In April 1988, Vora was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh. He was also the Governor of Uttar Pradesh from 26 May 1993 to 3 May 1996.
BJP's maverick politician Subramanian Swamy has been at the forefront of raising the issue of alleged money laundering at the National Herald media house. After his campaign against the scandal since 2012, the ED took suo motu cognisance of the matter and registered a case of money laundering in August 2014.
Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and INC's Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Sam Pitroda and Suman Dubey were made accused in the case.