Cong stalls Parliament over National Herald case

An irate Congress party today disrupted proceedings in both houses of Parliament over the issue of the Delhi high court rejecting a plea by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, Congress president and vice president, respectively, even as finance minister Arun Jaitley said the government has nothing to do with a private member's case.

Both houses did not transact any business today after Congress members guided by a combative Sonia Gandhi repeatedly disrupted the proceedings alleging ''vendetta politics'', in an apparent reference to the National Herald case.

The fiancÚ minister rejected Congress charge of taking political vendetta on the part by the Narendra Modi government in the National Herald case.

He said the Congress was creating a scene in Parliament on the issue, only to disrupt proceedings in the Houses and asked its leaders, including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, to instead face the courts.

While the Congress members continued to protest, without specifying the issue over which they were agitating, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha failed to pass precious legislation, including the one on the key goods and services tax (GST) bill.

Congress members were in the Well of the Houses all the time, shouting slogans against the government, even as the chair in both Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha kept asking them to spell out the reason for their protest which they did not do explicitly.

India cannot anymore be a banana republic in which Parliament or media can decide the guilt or innocence in such matters, he said.

''No political vendetta. A private complaint was lodged. The government had nothing to do with it. The high court has dismissed their case and asked them to go and face trial. Nobody in this country has immunity from law. They can challenge the orders in a higher court or face proceedings,'' he said.

Earlier, both the Houses of Parliament were adjourned for the day after repeated disruptions by Congress members over the case in which the Delhi high court on Monday dismissed the plea of Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and others seeking quashing of summons against them and exemption from personal appearance.

The National Herald case was filed by Subramanian Swamy, the then Janata Party president, which raised questions over acquisition of a company that published the now-defunct National Herald newspaper to which Congress gave a loan of over Rs90 crore.

Swamy had alleged that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had floated a Section 25 company called 'Young Indian', which acquired Associated Journals, founded by late Jawaharlal Nehru, that published the National Herald and Quami Awaz.

Swamy claimed it was illegal for Congress, a political party, to give loans for commercial purposes. Young Indian wrote off the loans due to Congress for a mere Rs50 lakh and by a board resolution, the Associate Journals was sold by transfer of shares to Young Indian, which is not a newspaper or journal producing company.

The deal, according to Swamy, was to grab Herald House in Delhi and other properties of the Associated Journals in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

Rahul Gandhi threatened legal action against Swamy and Congress challenged Swamy to prove his allegations in a court of law. Following Swamy's plea, a Delhi court ordered the Gandhis to appear before it on 7 August, which the two challenged in the high court.

The high court, however, rejected the plea of Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi and others to appear before the trial court as directed by it,

The Constitution amendment bill for facilitating the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST) and the bill to regulate real estate business were slated to come up in the Rajya Sabha today, even as the business advisory committee of the Rajya Sabha has allocated time for six bills for discussion and passage.

Government had proposed a heavy legislative agenda for consideration and passing of a total of sixteen bills by the two houses of Parliament in the third week of current winter session. This includes four more bills in the Lok Sabha in addition to the two bills already listed and seven more in the Rajya Sabha wherein three bills are already listed.