Swamy alleges that the Gandhis floated a company called Young Indian that, through a series of questionable transactions, took over the parent company of The National Herald and thus got prime properties worth thousands of crore for virtually nothing. The two Gandhis have a 76-per cent stake in Young Indian, and the rest of the equity is held by Congress leaders Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes.
The newspaper itself shut down in 2008, but, according to Swamy, Associated Journals Private Ltd, the parent company of The National Herald, owns properties in Delhi, Mumbai and several other states. It got these properties at subsidised rates from the government because the purpose of the company was to publish newspapers. But, Swamy claims, the properties continue to be in the custody of Young Indian, which he alleges has made money off their rental and lease value.
Even though it was known as a Congress mouthpiece, The National Herald has an illustrious history. It was launched by Jawaharlal Nehru who was also once its editor. Feroze Gandhi, husband of Indira Gandhi, was once managing director. But the paper lost its appeal after the Congress went into decline.
After the summons was issued, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, a Congress spokesperson, was quoted as saying: “When we receive the papers and take full legal advice, a vigorous response will be filed in respect of this completely false and motivated complaint.”