Sonia Gandhi reaches ED office for questioning

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People familiar with the development said her questioning schedule might not be as hectic as that Rahul Gandhi, who was grilled for 10 hours over five days last month…reports Asian Lite News

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday appeared before the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for her interrogation in the National Herald newspaper money laundering case even as Congress workers and party leaders protested in Lutyens’ Zone, a reminder of last month’s protests outside ED office when Rahul Gandhi was questioned by the federal agency.

Accompanied by her son Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Sonia Gandhi reached the ED office around noon.

The 75-year-old interim president of the grand old party, who is being questioned for the first time ever, is under investigation along with her son for alleged transfer of party funds to Associated Journals Limited, the company which ran National Herald, and running of Young Indian Pvt Ltd, in which she is a majority stakeholder.

People familiar with the development said her questioning schedule might not be as hectic as that Rahul Gandhi, who was grilled for 10 hours over five days last month.

However, she could be called for questioning again on consecutive days to answer the queries of the investigation team.

Keeping in mind her age and health, as special exemption, daughter Priyanka was allowed to accompany Sonia Gandhi inside the ED office, according to an officer.

However, Priyanka will be made to sit in a separate room, not in the interrogation room, the officer said. Rahul Gandhi, however, joined his mother only till outside the ED office.

Sonia Gandhi was originally supposed to be questioned on in first week of June but due to Covid-19 infection, the date was postponed to June 23. She had sought four weeks’ time from the central agency as she was strictly advised to rest at home following her hospitalisation last month due to Covid-19 infection. Her request had been accepted by the ED on June 23 and fresh summons were issued for Thursday.

She is likely to be questioned about her role in day-to- day functioning of Young Indian Pvt Ltd (YI), a company in which she is a majority stakeholder along with her son Rahul Gandhi; acquisition of Associated Journals Ltd by YI; a loan of ₹90.21 crore given by the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) to AJL; and transactions related to the development of a property in Mumbai.

Rahul Gandhi was questioned for five days on similar lines last month in the case. Both are 76% stakeholders in Young Indian.

Congress party claimed that Gandhis are being hounded by the Centre. It has claimed that the transaction from AICC to AJL was done to help save the newspaper and pay the salaries of journalists and staffers at a time when AJL faced huge debts. It has further argued that the decision helped revive the organisation and blames the central government for raking up an old issue to target the Gandhi family and for political vendetta.

However, investigators have said that YI is not a charity. According to another officer, who didn’t want to be named, said, “as reflected in the Income Tax department’s probe, even though YI was registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956 in November 2010, it has no business or income of its own and has not carried out any charitable activities”.

During Rahul Gandhi’s extensive questioning in mid-June, hundreds of Congress workers and senior leaders protested in the national Capital and gave arrests alleging political vendetta by the Centre.

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