Union minister Smriti Irani on Tuesday attacked Congress president Rahul Gandhi over the National Herald case in a press conference in Delhi. Irani asked Rahul Gandhi why Young India, a publication started by the Gandhis, bought a commercial company. “The Congress president must answer on charges levelled against him in the case,” Irani said.
Irani also directed her attack on the Congress party for creating an NPA problem for the country during its tenure. She cited former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s statement to say that it Congress that is responsible for the increased NPA.”Rahul, Priyanka Vadra and Sonia Gandhi wanted to sabotage the taxpayer’s money,” Irani alleged.
“Sonia led a government that attacked the very core of the Indian banking system. Raghuram Rajan said that between 2006-08, the UPA functioning led to increased NPAs in India’s banking structure,” Irani stated.
She also claimed that while on one hand, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, efforts are being made to empower the poor, on the other hand, the activities of the top leadership of the Congress are coming in front of the public and proving that the party’s empowerment is only limited to the Gandhi family.
“Why is it that Rahul who is too quick to hug the prime minister, would run a mile away when it comes to an Income Tax officer,” Irani remarked.
Meanwhile, the Congress on Monday dared Modi to fight a “political battle” with Rahul instead of seeking “petty revenge” after the BJP attacked the opposition party over the National Herald case.
The political slug fest started after the The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed the pleas of Sonia and Rahul challenging reopening of their tax assessments for 2011-12. Congress communications’ in-charge Randeep Surjewala claimed that the Modi government was “unnerved, perturbed and scared” by the “successful Bharat Bandh through which the people of India sought accountability”. “They (the BJP) are now resorting to foolish press conferences by making stupid remarks that have no foundations. Perhaps in the history of this country such stupidity and foolishness may have never been committed by a ruling dispensation,” Surjewala had said.
Whereas, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also claiemd in a press conference, that the Bharat Bandh called on Monday by the Congress was to divert people’s attention from the hearing in the Delhi High Court on a matter related to the National Herald case involving its “corrupt” leaders. Welcoming the Delhi High Court’s order, Patra said it was a “victory of common man.”
However, Surjewala had hit-back at BJP claiming that Modi had “directed” the Income Tax Department to reopen income tax returns of the Congress leadership of the year 2010-11 after a period of eight years. “The malice and malafide are writ large in the fact that all these returns have been duly scrutinised by Modi ji’s Income Tax Department itself in the past. We have no problem with that,” he had said.
The Income Tax Department is saying that the loan of Rs 90 crore given by the Congress, which National Herald and Navjivan newspapers could not pay back, is a gain to the shareholders of ‘not-for-profit’ company Young Indian, who are Congress president Rahul, Sonia and others, he said. “Let us presume that this Rs 90 crore is also a gain. Rs 90 crore is the so-called gain and what is the demand for tax — everybody knows it can be maximum of 30 percent, but Modiji is saying gain Rs 90 crore — tax Rs 357 crore — 400 percent higher than the income?” Surjewala remarked.
The Delhi High Court bench on Monday also dismissed the petition of Congress leader Oscar Fernandes, who too had challenged the reopening of his tax assessment for the same year (2011-12).
The high court on 16 August had reserved its order on the pleas of the three leaders after the Income Tax Department had contended that Rahul’s tax assessment for 2011-12 was reopened as material facts were concealed. In the complaint, Sonia, Rahul and others have been accused of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying just Rs 50 lakh, through which the Young India had obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that the Associated Journals Ltd owed to the Congress.