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Sonia and Rahul Gandhi contest graft allegations

An Indian court has granted bail to opposition leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi on accusations of illegally acquiring a newspaper's assets. The pair claims the criminal case is a political vendetta by ruling BJP.

The leaders of India's opposition Indian National Congress party appeared in court Saturday in connection with a graft scandal. Minutes later they were freed after posting a bond of about 700 euros ($750) each and ordered to reappear on February 20.

The accusations against the Gandhis and stem from Subramanian Swamy, a prominent member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who said the pair had illegally acquired about 277 million euros ($300 million) in assets that included the landmark "National Herald" newspaper, which was founded in 1938.

The newspaper ceased publishing in 2008 and the company that ran it, Associated Journals Limited, was converted into a real estate firm. The pair is accused of illegally profiting from deals that followed the sale of the assets.

Defense claims 'political vendetta'

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Congress party spokesman Randeep Surjewala said the criminal investigation is a political witch hunt against the opposition. He added that the Gandhis are confident that they will prevail in court.

"It's a political vendetta led by, I am saying with a sense of responsibility, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and [the plaintiff] Swamy is only a small cog in this entire wheel of conspiracy," Surjewala said.

The BJP has rejected any allegations of wrongdoing, saying the case was brought in 2012, a year before Swamy joined the BJP.

Contrary to common misconception, the

Gandhis of the Congress party

are of no relation to

Mahatma Gandhi, leader of India's independence movement

who died in 1948.

jar/sms (PTI, AP, AFP)

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