New Delhi: Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy on Saturday moved the Election Commission to derecognise Congress, alleging the party violated laws by providing a Rs 90 crore loan to a company that published the now-defunct National Herald newspaper.
In a letter to Election Commission, Swamy said Congress has "prima facie" committed an offence under electoral law as well as Income Tax law for which it is necessary to hold hearings and decide on derecognising the party.
His petition to the Commission comes as a follow up to his charges against Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi over acquisition of Associated Journals that published the newspaper to which Congress gave a loan of over Rs 90 crore.
He had said Associated Journals obtained an unsecured loan of over Rs 90 crore from AICC which he claimed was illegal under Income Tax Act because a political party cannot give loans for commercial purposes.
"The written admission by senior Congress leader and spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi in his press release dated November two admitted that Congress has loaned (a sum of more than Rs 90 crores) to a company incorporated under Section 3 of Companies Act, 1956 by name Associated Journals Pvt Ltd.
"This loan is in violation of the Guidelines and Rules that has to be mandatorily followed by political parties for registration as well as recognition. Section 29A to C of RPA and Section 13A of IT Act do not make any provision for any political party to extend loans to companies with or without interest," Swamy said in the letter.
The Congress on its part adopted a combative approach over the controversy on The Associated Journals issue, saying it has discharged its "political dharma" and that it was ready to contest any challenge in any fora for giving loan to support the newspaper.
In a late night press release, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said: "The Indian National Congress (INC) has done its duty in supporting The Associated Journals Limited to help initiate a process to bring the newspaper back to health in compliance with the laws of the land”.
"The support was extended in the form of an interest free loan from which no commercial profit has accrued to the INC," said Dwivedi.
The Associated Journals Limited published the now defunct National Herald and Quami Awaz.
National Herald was founded by Jawaharlal Nehru (who became India`s first prime minister in 1947) in 1937, and played a role in the freedom struggle, said the Congress.
Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy had on Thursday alleged "wrongdoing" by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi vis-à-vis the takeover of Herald House in Delhi.
BJP leader Arun Jaitley joined Swamy on Friday in asking the Congress to come clear if it had given a loan of Rs 90 crore to the company floated by the Gandhis.
The Congress challenged Swamy to prove his allegations.
Dwivedi said that "in furtherance of its object and its political activities, it is a matter of pride for the INC that it has supported The Associated Journals Limited, publisher of National Herald and other newspapers, founded by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1937, which has played a role in our freedom struggle."
According to Dwivedi, "The object of INC is well being and advancement of the people of India and establishment in India, by peaceful and constitutional means, of a socialist state based on parliamentary democracy in which there is equality of opportunity and of political, economic and social rights and which aims at world peace and fellowship".
With Agencies inputs