ED action to attach AJL properties reflects BJP's desperation to divert attention from certain defeat in five states: Congress
New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) Soon after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) said that it has attached properties worth Rs 751 crore of the Associated Journals Limited (AJL), the company which runs the National Herald, the Congress hit back saying that the action reflects the BJP's desperation to divert attention from certain defeat in the ongoing elections in five states.
In a statement, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said, "Reports of attachment of AJL properties by ED reflects their desperation to divert attention from certain defeat in the ongoing elections in each state."
He said that the Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) action can only be "consequential to some predicate or main offence."
"There is no transfer of any immovable property. There is no movement of money. There are no proceeds of crime. Indeed, there is no complainant who claims to have been cheated, not a single one!!" Singhvi, who is also an eminent lawyer said.
He added, "This is a prefabricated structure of deceit, lies and falsehood, of, by and for the BJP, to divert, distract and digress in the middle of elections. No BJP coalition partner — CBI, ED or IT — can prevent certain impending defeat of the BJP. An assignment of loan without transfer of any immovable property or movement of money is being dressed up to justify attachment and freezing of assets of a company which runs an iconic voice of Indian independence movement — National Herald — only because its linked to the Congress and its legacy. These petty vendetta tactics shall not cow down the Congress or the Opposition," Singhvi added.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Manickam Tagore also hit back at the ED’s actions saying the attachment order is illegal.
Tagore said, "The action of the ED under the orders of (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi to take away the properties of the National Herald is an illegal order."
He said that the National Herald was an organisation which had fought against the British during the freedom struggle. Taking a swipe at the RSS, he said that all of us know that the RSS and the organisations were supporting the British. "Now the same RSS and the BJP are taking away the properties of National Herald through the illegal action of the ED," he said.
He added that the people of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Chhattisgarh will give a befitting reply to a frustrated Modi.
"Modi will be defeated and his frustration will be defeated and the people of India will show them that those people who fought for the freeddom movement cannot be treated like this," the Congress leader added.
Even Congress General Secretary (Organisation) KC Venugopal in a post on X, said, "The ED attaching properties of AJL and Young Indian in a completely frivolous and made-up case, is shameful vendetta politics. The BJP must realise that going after India’s largest Opposition party is akin to going after Indian democracy."
Hitting out at the BJP, Venugopal said, "They are staring at a historic loss in the ongoing five state elections and in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. If they think they can intimidate us or tarnish our reputation in the people’s eyes, they are grossly mistaken."
"The BJP and its allied agencies are the murderers of Indian democracy and 1.4 billion Indians will give a befitting reply to this fascist politics of revenge and intimidation. Satyamev Jayate," the Congress leader added.
The remarks came after the ED said that it attached properties worth Rs 751.9 crore in a money-laundering case against AJL, the company which owns various publications including National Herald. The financial probe agency claimed that both Congress-linked organisations were ‘beneficiaries’ of proceeds of crime and the assets included immovable properties.
The ED said that its probe in the money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act revealed that “AJL is in possession of proceeds of crime in the form of immovable properties spread across many cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow to the tune of Rs 661.69 crore and Young Indian is in possession of proceeds of crime to the tune of Rs 90.21 crore in the form of investment in equity shares of AJL”.
The ED registered a case of money-laundering on the basis of process issued by a Delhi Court after taking cognisance of a private complaint vide order dated June 26, 2014.