Fri, 09 Jun 2023

New Delhi [India], August 4 (ANI): Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday alleged that the frequent raids by the Central agencies on Opposition leaders are an attempt by the government to eliminate the Opposition.

"If the government wanted non-involvement in such matters (money laundering), it should perform its job unbiasedly, but the way they are doing it so hurriedly implies that it is their attempt to defame and demoralise the Congress and eliminate the Bharatiya Janata Party's Opposition," he said when asked about the sealing of Young India office in the national capital.

He further said that the ED was following its "procedure" and he did not find it relevant to repeat his comments over the matter "as it is a matter of political vendetta".

ED had sealed the Young India office at the Herald House building in the national capital on Wednesday as no one was available in the office during the search, because of which they were not able to complete the search.

Earlier reports said that the Herald House office was sealed.

The probe agency took action a day after the ED carried out raids at 12 locations in the national capital and at other places in connection with the National Herald case in which top Congress leaders were accused of violating norms.

The National Herald case pertains to the alleged financial irregularities under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and was registered about nine months ago after a trial court took cognisance of an Income Tax department probe carried out on the basis of a private criminal complaint filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Subramanian Swamy in 2013.

The petitioner had approached the court alleging that the assets of Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which published the National Herald newspaper, were fraudulently acquired and transferred to Young India Pvt Limited (YIL), in which Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi owned 38 per cent shares each.

Swamy had alleged that the Gandhis cheated and misappropriated funds, with YIL paying only Rs 50 lakh to obtain the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that AJL owed to Congress.

The said raids were conducted days after the investigative agency questioned Congress interim-president Sonia Gandhi for nearly three hours on July 27. It was the third round of questioning of the senior leader in the case.

Following the summoning of Sonia Gandhi by the ED, Congress workers and leaders staged protests in various parts of the country alleging misuse of probe agencies by the government.

Sonia Gandhi was also questioned by ED on July 26 also, when she reached accompanied by her daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Officials said on that day, the party president's response was sought to around 30 questions regarding her involvement with the National Herald newspaper and Young India Pvt Ltd.

During her questioning, the Lok Sabha MP from Rae Bareli was asked about the functioning and running of the newspaper, the role of its various office bearers. Prior to that, she was also questioned by ED on July 21.

Meanwhile, in June, the ED questioned Rahul Gandhi for five days. Rahul Gandhi was questioned by the ED for over 27 hours for three straight days from June 13 to June 15 and was again summoned on June 20. On June 20, he was questioned for around 14 hours.

The Congress leader deposed before the ED investigators in the case for the first time on June 13.

He initially sought an exemption from appearance on June 16, following which he was called on June 17. But the senior Congress leader wrote to the ED to postpone his questioning citing the illness of his mother Sonia Gandhi. The ED then allowed him to join the probe on June 20 at his request. (ANI)

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