National Herald case: Are wide grins and loud assertions too temporary?


For now, let us assume the contention of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi that the National Herald case is politically-motivated and that it’s Narenda Modi’s way of taking on the opponents and a manifestation of political vendetta.

Breathing not only easy, but even fire and brimstone, Rahul and his mom launched a trenchant attack on the BJP and Modi, after emerging out of the Patiala House Court that commenced the private case filed by maverick politician Subramanian Swamy.

What happened so far in the case is known to all.

The denouement of the case isn’t conclusive for the Congress and its bosses to feel liberated or celebrate the victory. As the saying goes, what goes around, comes around. True. Now that the igniter was triggered, the spark lit up the case. The court turned the knob to keep it simmering.

Media may have surely overdone speculating around bail or jail in a case whose trial has yet to commence. But yes, all the seven accused had to secure a bail in itself indicates the seriousness in the charges.

Nobody knows how the proceedings would drive the case. What if Subramanian Swamy seeks a CBI probe into the case at some stage.
Assume that the case drags on until a year before 2019 general elections. Depending on the outcome, there can be a few possibilities which we will discuss here.

A battery of stalwart jurists like Kapil Sibal, and Abhishek Manu Singhvi donned the black robes and appeared in the court on behalf of their bosses.

The judicial process of the knotty case with too many wrangles around will take a long time even for the trial court to take it to its logical end.

1. If the case is struck down by the trial court, the plaintiff, popular or notorious for his relentless approach in pursuing any case reminding anyone of a chewing gum, will take it to the next level. At that stage, he may seek a probe by an agency like the CBI. A High Court is one of the competent authorities to order a CBI probe into any case. This becomes a fit case, considering the financial allegations involved and the accused persons’ stature.

2. In case the verdict doesn’t absolve the Congress echelons of the charges, the accused will have the right to challenge the impugned order in the High Court. This will naturally get the Government to take a serious look into the matter.

3. Assuming the Congress party’s charge of political vendetta holds good, the BJP’s black coats too will sharpen the saw to take on their bête noire full throttle. Arun Jaitley, Ravi Shankar Prasad and there is no dearth of legal luminaries on the other side too. This can get many parties seeking to Implead themselves in the case.

4. As it appears, prima facie, the deal between Associated Journals Limited, the owner of assets of National Herald (established in 1938 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru), and it’s acquirer company, Young India Ltd, in which Sonia and Rahul owned a stake of 38 per cent each., raises many queries.

Young India Ltd was floated to acquire National Herald and its assets and relieve AJL of its debt burden to the tune of Rs 90-odd crore. But National Herald has an asset base valued over Rs. 5000 crore, little less than a whopping one billion dollars.

5. With the multiple angles making the case creepier, the BJP may use the “ongoing case” in whichever court at the time of election as the final nail in the Congress’ coffin and use the intermediate time available at its disposal to paint the Congress dark.

Though Rahul and Sonia demoed their triumphal body language after securing a bail within three minutes on Saturday, they must understand that the judiciary may have been liberal with bail, but it can be severe with punishment.

The charge of political vendetta may not hold any water, for the probe was not ordered by the government nor is there any role for any State agency in the episode as of now, except that Subramanian Swamy being dubbed as the “stooge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rahul Gandhi may not be cowed down with the tactics of the Modi regime for now.

But ask M Karunanidhi, J Jayalalithaa, Ashok Chavan, Veerabhadra Singh, A Raja, Kanimozhi, Dayanidhi Maran, Madhu Koda, Mayawati, Lalu Prasad Yadav, YS Jaganmohan Reddy, B S Yedyurappa and a host of others on what they wished today.

They may have been disappointed by today’s trial court’s decision to let go the accused on bail. They may surely be hoping that there is a glimmer of hope at the proverbial end of the tunnel praying for what had gone around all these years must come around.

Not to talk of scruples, what matters is how is the rule book interpreted in the case and who matters the most at the most crucial of times. It’s a conjecture of time to know whether the wide grins and victory symbols flashed by the mom-son Gandhis were momentary or long lasting.

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