What may be a step towards the relaunch of Congress mouthpiece National Herald in digital and print sphere, Rahul Gandhi presided over the event to release its commemorative edition in Bengaluru. The bid to relaunch the publication, started by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938, has come amid a legal battle involving party president Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi and other leaders.
Speaking at the function, Rahul Gandhi accused the incumbent Narendra Modi government at the Centre of “forcing everyone into silence”. He also charged that Dalits are being “beaten up”, minorities “frightened” and journalists and bureaucrats are “threatened”.
“The power of truth is being completely replaced with the truth of power and anybody who attempts to speak the truth and stand for it is being pushed aside,” he said.
Referring to his visit to Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh where farmers were raising protest against the BJP-ruled state government and earlier in Uttar Pradesh, he said, “This is the India we are living in…an India where power will simply manufacture the truth.”
Gandhi was stopped from visiting the protest site, even as leaders from the ruling party criticised his visits and termed it a mere “photo-op”.
Underlining that his party’s mouthpiece will be an independent media voice, the Congress vice president said, “National Herald has a strong spirit. It is not going to be silenced”.
Congress leader Oscar Fernandes, who is on the Board of Directors of the newspaper, said the paper was in the process of reviving its Hindi and Urdu editions as a multi- media outlet. He said the National Herald website, launched eight months ago, was being upgraded and would be fully operational later this month.
The function is being seen as a prelude to the launch of the daily National Herald English edition. Vice President Md Hamid Ansari, Karnataka Governor Vaijubhai Vala, and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too were present at the event.
National Herald has been embroiled with controversy over a legal issue relating to its debt. In a private criminal complaint, filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, he has accused the Gandhis and others of paying only Rs 50 lakh, through which Young Indian Pvt. Ltd (YI) obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore, which its publisher, Associate Journals Ltd (AJL), owed to the Congress party.
The Gandhis and the other accused — Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda — have denied the allegations levelled against them.
While the matter is being heard in a Delhi lower court, the Delhi High Court had recently declined to stay the Income Tax proceedings against Young India Ltd in a related case.
(With inputs from PTI)