The Young Indian is a family business with around 24% of the shares going to party stalwarts Oscar Fernandes and Motilal Vora. Now that both executives are dead, it’s unclear who their shares would transfer to
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Image courtesy @INCIndia/Twitter
Nothing more condones the accusations often leveled against Congress of being turned into a family limited liability company than the National Herald case. The history of Indian media is replete with publications that have supported an ideological or social cause.
Long before Jawaharlal Nehru founded the Associated Journals Limited in 1937 to publish national herald In English, Navjeevan in Hindi and Quami Awaz in Urdu, freedom fighters had maintained a tradition of debate and protest through media platforms, then limited to the print media. As the historian Bipan Chandra mentions in his seminal work India’s struggle for independence, “Nearly all of the major political controversies of the time were driven by the press. It also played an institutional role of opposition to the government. Almost every act and every policy of the government has come under heavy criticism.
Even British publications from the pre-independence period were very clear about the ideological biases in favor of imperial rule in the country. Mahatma Gandhi makes a very relevant mention of it in his autobiography, My experiences with the truth. Referring to a meeting with a certain Mr Chesney Junior, then editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, at that time under British ownership, Gandhi wrote: “He promised to notice in his diary whatever I might write, but added that he could not promise to approve all Indian demands, as he was to understand and give due weight. also from the point of view of the Colonials.
Therefore, Nehru has only continued the tradition established by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Lala Lajpat Rai and of course Mahatma Gandhi to endorse the demand for independence and also the ideological moorings of the Congress party. Although his attempt was to make the publication professional and self-contained, thereby creating a company under the Companies Act then in force.
To give him a broader base, Nehru had several Congress leaders including United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh) as shareholders like PD Tandon, GB Pant, Acharya Narendra Dev and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai among others. There is nothing wrong with seeking professional management of an ideologically oriented publication.
One of the most notable examples is the Bharat Prakashan Trust, which publishes The organizer in English and Panchjanya in Hindi. However de jure independent publication, their subservience to right-wing ideology cannot be missed. Founded in July 1947, Bharat Prakashan over the past 75 years has grown from strength to strength largely on the basis of a huge base of reader support among Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) followers.
In this context, a very relevant comment was made by a former member of Lok Sabha from the Congress party. On the day former Congress President Rahul Gandhi was summoned by the Law Enforcement Directorate and the party launched a nationwide agitation to protest the summons, Sandeep Dikshit, son of the late Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit tweeted saying, “If all the Congress leaders waving in the streets had subscribed to national herald, Navjeevan and Quami Awaz, these newspapers would not have known such bad days. In saying this, Dikshit was probably aware of the fact that almost all RSS-friendly households subscribe to The organizer and Panchjanya.
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What was the intention to change ownership of the three newspapers from Associated Journals Limited to Young Indian? The whole exercise seems to have been done to relieve the heirs of the other shareholders that Nehru had brought on board.
The Young Indian is a family business with around 24% of the shares going to party loyalists Oscar Fernandes and Motilal Vora. Now that the two leaders are deceased, it is unclear to whom their shares will be transferred.
Newspapers under the Associated Journals banner had ceased publication in 2008. By then, the company was in debt of Rs 90 crore. This loan was repaid by the All India Congress Committee. Subsequently, Young Indian, the company which owns 76% of the combined shareholding of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi bought shares, took over the holdings of Associated Journals.
According to media reports, Rahul Gandhi reportedly told the Law Enforcement Directorate that Young Indian is a non-profit corporation which was incorporated under a special provision of the Societies Act and that no penny has not been removed. The same outlets also said ED officials contradicted Gandhi’s claim and alleged that the company had done no charitable work since its inception in 2010.
It is hard to say that Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi would not be able to defend the case legally and overcome the obstacles. The whole transaction would not have been done without legal advice or without considering the repercussions it would have.
However, the fact remains that the current leadership of Congress, instead of cultivating three newspapers as an organ to promote its political plans and policies, strengthen the ideological commitment of its cadres and use it as a platform for interaction, chose it as a financial investment instrument. and back. It certainly turned out to be a bad investment in terms of losing ideological camaraderie and now the question mark over the whole transaction being legally tenable.
The author is author and president of the Center for Reforms, Development & Justice. The opinions expressed are personal.
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