Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi has threatened legal action against Subramanian Swamy after the Janata Party president accused him and Congress president Sonia Gandhi of floating a company, which, he alleged, illicitly acquired Associated Journals Ltd., a public limited company with valuable property in Delhi and across Uttar Pradesh.

“Utterly false”

A letter sent by Mr. Gandhi’s office to Dr. Swamy, which describes the allegations as “utterly false, entirely baseless and defamatory,” says: “We shall pursue the legal remedies open to us against the utterly motivated and irresponsible contents of your press conference, and we shall pursue all proceedings that are available in law to ensure that an individual like you and an organisation like yours do not abuse the freedom to speak and write in utter violation of the equally important need in a civilised society to maintain the dignity of individuals and organisations and to abide by the law of the country.”

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari too came in Mr. Gandhi’s defence. “Unfortunately, the culture of public discourse is now marked by making unsubstantiated allegations every day. Past experience has shown that when such charges are tested on the anvil of truth, they are found to be completely false,” he said.

Earlier in the day, dismissing the charges, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said, “Every country and society has these wondrous people who are capable of saying anything at all.”

All this came after Dr. Swamy said Ms. Gandhi and Mr. Gandhi had floated a company, Young Indian, that acquired Associated Journals Ltd., which owns The National Herald and Quami Awaz newspapers, and all “its high-value real estate property in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.” It was a “fraud” committed to “grab” the centrally located Herald House in Delhi that he said was worth “about Rs. 1,600 crore.”

Dr. Swamy said that on February 26, 2011, “the board of AJ Pvt. Ltd. passed a resolution, approving unsecured loans from the All-India Congress Committee (AICC), for zero interest…, to extinguish the liability of the company of more than Rs. 90 crore.”

Arguing that it was “illegal for a political party to give loans to any company, he said the resolution mandated that in lieu of this deal with the AICC, the board “decided to allot all AJ’s nine crore shares of Rs. 10 each to Young Indian, the private company of Ms. Gandhi and Mr. Gandhi, where both together hold more than three-fourths of the total shares.”

Dr. Swamy urged the Serious Frauds Investigation Office and the CBI to probe “this dubious, stinking deal between Young Indian and the Associated Journals Ltd., as also the illegality of the AICC giving a loan to a private company.”

Newspaper report

Earlier this month, Mr. Gandhi’s office responded in an email to a report in The Pioneer that said he and his mother had floated Young Indian, which was expected to re-launch the now defunct National Herald. That e-mail read: “Young Indian is a company registered and holding a licence granted under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. As a Section 25 company, Young Indian is a not-for-profit company and does not have commercial operations. The activities of the company are in the public domain. Anyone who chooses to can inspect the Objects of the Company. The company has no intention of starting any newspaper.”