BJP leader Sambit Patra raised the National Herald case Saturday to target Congress president Rahul Gandhi, alleging that his family has "looted the country for decades".
Patra, who is a party spokesperson, held a press conference on the roadside in front of a commercial building in MP Nagar area here, claiming that the land had been allotted to Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) “helmed by the Gandhi family at a throw-away price” for printing the National Herald newspaper.
The Congress has dismissed allegations of wrongdoing in the matter. The party’s Madhya Pradesh unit said Saturday it is going to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission against Patra for holding a press conference without permission on a public property.
Asked why the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, which is in power for 15 years, did not get the property vacated if it was illegally acquired, Patra claimed that the Bhopal Development Authority has issued eviction notices and the matter is before court.
“The commercial building behind me is a monument of corruption as it was acquired by Associated Journals Limited helmed by the Gandhi family at a throw-away price to print the National Herald.
“Rahul was accused number two in the case related to land grab on the pretext of printing National Herald in various parts of the country,” he alleged.
“The Gandhi family has looted the country for decades and this commercial building on a public land allotted to AJL for printing a newspaper speaks of it (the alleged loot),” he alleged.
BJP MP Subramanian Swamy has filed a private complaint in a Delhi court, accusing the Gandhis and others of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying Rs 50 lakh through which Young Indian Pvt Ltd obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associate Journals Ltd (which runs National Herald) owed to the Congress party.
All the accused in the case, who are on bail, have denied the allegations. The case is going on before a metropolitan magistrate in Delhi.
Asked about Rahul Gandhi’s “chowkidar chor hai” remark accusing the prime minister of corruption in the Rafale deal, Patra said that if Gandhi has evidence, he should approach court.
Rahul Gandhi had reiterated his allegations of irregularities in Rafale fighter jet deal, which the government has denied, during his recent tours in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.
When the press conference was about to end, an unidentified man arrived and asked journalists why they were asking “attacking questions”.
There was a heated exchange between the reporters and the man before the police took him away.
Later, Patra visited the building, saying he was going to find out whether National Herald was printed there.
State Congress spokesperson Bhupendra Gupta said the party is going to lodge a complaint with the Election Commission against Patra for holding a press conference without permission, that too on a public property (a road).
“We are also going to file a police complaint,” Gupta said.