New Delhi: Adopting a combative approach over the controversy on The Associated Journals issue, the Congress on Saturday said it has discharged its "political dharma" and was ready to contest any challenge in any fora for giving loan to support National Herald. Party General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi also launched a hard-hitting attack on Janta Party chief Subramanian Swamy and the BJP for carrying out a "propaganda of lie" and "distorting" facts.
Seeking to rebut the allegations point by point, Dwivedi said, "How can there be a commercial purpose as alleged when no interest was charged for the loan?" Responding to BJP leader Arun Jaitley's contention that a political party can use its funds only for political purposes and not any business or financial activity, Dwivedi asserted, "Who will decide what political work for any party?"
"We will decide what is political work for us and not any other party. BJP will not be allowed to decide what is political work for us. For some parties spreading rumour and unrest is political work."
"To promote the Gandhi-Nehru thought is political work and to encourage the people, organisations and instruments working for the cause. We have discharged our political dharma because Associated Journals has worked to promote the Gandhi-Nehru thought."
Holding that the revival of National Herald was an issue of great importance and sentiments for the Congress, he said, "National Herald was established by Jawaharlal Nehru to give strength to the freedom struggle. Nehru is not only the leader of a party but the whole nation."
Dwivedi also pointed out that the revival of National Herald has helped over 700 employees get their salary dues, Provident Fund and VRS benefits. "400 people working in the Associated Journals had become homeless while 300 workers in its Lucknow office had lost their jobs. We are proud that not only the salary dues of these 700 employees were paid off but even the VRS was given with all the benefits to those, who opted for it and and their Provident Funds were also paid," he said wondering whether any other news organisation does all these for their employees.
Noting that questions have also been raised over a new company Young Indian having Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi floated to take over the functioning of Associated Journals, Dwivedi said, "An impression is being sought to be given that Young India has taken over The Associated Journals and there will be a commercial venture now. "The existence of Associated Journals has not come to an end. Young Indian has got the shares of it. Any organisation can keep its existence as long as it serves the purpose for which it exists. Associated Journals is being made functional. That's all."
A senior party leader speaking on the condition of anonymity said that the party will fight out the issue in Election Commission. "Let Swamy go wherever he wants to go. We will contest it technically," the leader said when pointed out that Swamy has decided to approach Election Commission seeking derecognition of Congress.
The press conference called on a non media briefing day today is the second intervention by Dwivedi within 24 hours on the issue. Breaking its silence over the allegations levelled by Swamy, Dwivedi said in a late last night press release that the support of Congress to National Herald newspaper was interest free loans yielding no commercial profit to the party. He also claimed that it was done in compliance with the law of the land.