National Herald case: Swamy draws blood, Sibal says BJP trying to 'eliminate' Cong, AJL shareholders cry foul
Though Swamy still revels in being discovered as 'Sicilian' by Sonia Gandhi, his unforgiving nature is as much a worry for foes and as well as for friends.
The latest in the National Herald case:
- Kapil Sibal says Congress disrupting Parliament is not about National Herald, it is because BJP trying to 'eliminate' Congress party.
- Many shareholders of Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) have reportedly claimed that the company top brass did not get their okay before transferring equity to Young Indian Pvt Ltd ( YIL) in December 2010.
- BJP leader Subramanian Swamy wants all properties of AJL to be immediately attached. “The government is not doing enough in the case," he told The Indian Express.
Revenge is a dish best served cold. This is one of the defining features of Sicilian Mafiosi which got exposed to the world through Maria Puzo's novels -- The Sicilian and Godfather. No politician would like himself to be identified with the Sicilian traits.
But Subramanian Swamy is not an ordinary leader. He claims that he was once described as a Sicilian, "You are more Sicilian than Indian", by a person no less than Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Swamy happily remembers that Sicilian epithet.
The tenacity with which Swamy pursued the National Herald case that led to prima facie indictment of Sonia-Rahul on various charges of financial irregularities is reflective more of an underworld rivalry than a political one.
Taking that line forward, senior Congress leader and noted lawyer Kapil Sibal claims that the ruling BJP government is trying to “eliminate” the Congress party. In an interview published in The Indian Express, Sibal insists that Congress stalling the Parliament winter session is not about National Herald but about the “Government and Subramniam Swamy working together to target our leaders.”
Incidentally Swamy's antagonistic relations with the Nehru-Gandhi family is rooted in history when in 1970 Indira Gandhi first ticked him off in Parliament for what he wrote in his book Indian Economic Planning: An Alternative Approach and subsequently got him dismissed from his professorial position in IIT Delhi. Swamy used to teach Mathematical Economics in IIT. He went to court and won the case in 1991 and got himself reinstated, only to resign next day. He had proved his position.
He says despite that fight with Indira, he remained friends with Rajiv Gandhi and met him almost on daily basis even when latter was prime minister. He continued to have cordial relations with Sonia after Rajiv's death, which soured in 1999-2000. Swamy told Firstpost "Sonia betrayed me" and he is not a person to forgive and forget till the person who betrays him "publicly apologizes" for that supposed act.
The "betrayal" according to Swamy dates back to 1999 when Sonia called him for a confidential conversation and persuaded him to topple the Vajpayee government. To quote Swamy, Sonia told him "you have done this before, you have done this to VP Singh government, you can do it now. Bring down Vajpayee government." Subsequent to this meeting, Swamy held that famous tea party in March 1999 at Ashoka Hotel with Sonia and Jayalalithaa as the chief guests. True to Swamy's words Jayalalithaa withdrew support from Vajpayee government which lost the majority in Lok Sabha by one vote.
The deal, as per Swamy's claim, between Sonia and him was that once he brought down Vajpayee government, Congress would help in forming an alternate government at the Centre, instead what happened that Sonia herself tried to become prime minister something which was then vociferously opposed by Mulayam Singh Yadav. Rest is all history. Swamy claims that Sonia didn't deliver her part of the deal and went back on her promise. He confronted her in 2000 and told her this was the "last time" he was meeting her and he will do what he thought was fit.
In 2001 he filed the first case against Sonia of antique smuggling. He claimed that she had two antique shops in Italy from where antiques from India were siphoned off. The court asked the CBI to probe the matter but it dragged for long and later after a change of government at the Centre in 2004, the matter was closed. Swamy says he might at a later date rake up that case yet again.
He then filed a case on Sonia Gandhi's educational qualification, a case where Sonia apologised for typing error and Supreme Court asked Swamy to settle with that.
On 18 May 2007, the Supreme Court dismissed Swamy's petition seeking registration of a case against Sonia for allegedly filing a false affidavit on her educational qualifications at the time of her election from the Rae Bareli Lok Sabha Constituency during the 2004 general election. Swamy had earlier moved the Allahabad High Court after the returning officer, Rae Bareli refused to register a case against Sonia. The Congress president mentioned in her affidavit that she had completed a certificate course in English from Lennox Cook School, Cambridge University. According to a report in The Hindu, Swamy "alleged that the certificate in English course could have been obtained from any one of the small English teaching shops in Cambridge and this could not be construed as having been a student of Cambridge University."
Swamy's recent dual citizenship charge against Rahul Gandhi -- Indian and British -- though made waves but didn't have legs to stand for long.
Swamy is waiting for another day, dig out some more evidence and strike afresh. He and his men are still at work on this.
National Herald case is Swamy's biggest hit after getting sanction against prosecution of A Raja and other aspects of 2G scam, prosecution against Jayalalithaa, getting revoked single directive system which made it mandatory for the CBI to seek prior approval to prosecute an office of joint secretary rank and above on corruption charges.
Swamy knows it too well that his actions would mean the end of road for the GST Bill doggedly pushed by the Narendra Modi government for clearance in Parliament. But he is least bothered. Though he is a BJP member, Swamy says, "The government and Sonia can make any number of deals. I am not bothered. I am fighting corruption. The bill is not worth sacrificing fight for corruption in high places."
In fact, the BJP leadership knows it better than most in Indian politics that Swamy can be a formidable foe than as a friend. In 1998 he was a close associate of J Jayalalithaa and pitched himself for the Union finance minister from the AIADMK's quota when the NDA got majority. Vajpayee who was leading the alliance put his foot down and declined to give finance ministry to Swamy. Jayalalitha delayed her letter of support to Vajpayee nearly for a week before giving in to popular pressure. However, she was ultimately persuaded by Swamy to pull the rug from the Vajpayee government's feet in 1999 at the instance of Sonia Gandhi. In less than a decade of political journey, Swamy turned a redoubtable enemy of his former friends -- Sonia Gandhi and Jayalalithaa -- and took them to courts on various charges.
Though Swamy still revels in being discovered as "Sicilian" by Sonia Gandhi, his unforgiving nature is as much a worry for foes and as well as for friends.
The party president was speaking at the working committee meet ahead of the Chintan Shivir to be held in Udaipur from 13 to 15 May
According to sources, key proposals including One Family One Ticket and 50 below 50 have been passed during Congress' Chintan Shivir in Udaipur
Posting a photo with members of the political committee, set up Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Tharoor said it was an excellent opportunity to catch up with party colleagues from across the country