National Herald Case: Is this the end-game for Sonia Gandhi?

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 21, 2015 11:45 hrs

When Subramanian Swamy first made the National Herald case allegations, the Congress challenged him to move court. That has proved to be a very costly challenge indeed.

Sonia Gandhi is 69-years-old and not in good health (thanks to her mystery illness which no major media house dared to take up). How she will cope with all of this is anybody's guess. However that happens to be just one of her many problems.

Now in one of their defences, the Congress party challenged that if the shareholders of Associated Journals Limited (the parent company of National Herald) had no problem then what was Swamy's problem?

That has already backfired.

Former Congress minister, AAP founder member and lawyer Shanti Bhushan has already announced that he is an AJL shareholder and will move court. Here's an interesting titbit. Shanti Bhushan is the same man who cross-examined Indira for four hours!

Former Supreme Court Judge Markandey Katju has also stated he inherited shares from his grandfather. Media channels are digging details of all the AJL shareholders.

Any one of them going to court will make matters murky for Sonia.

There's still more bad news for her. National Herald properties are present all over India and each property is worth at least hundreds of crores. They are also being looked into. They include States like Maharashtra, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.

And guess what? Now a BJP government is ruling all of the above three! The media has already started doing reports in all these States and all manner of irregularities are being alleged. If the TV channels are putting so much pressure, then can you imagine what official investigating agencies will do?

Then what of the family? Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has boasted that he will arrest Robert Vadra in six months. On top of that there are Priyanka Vadra's multiple DINs. What if the Enforcement Directorate decides to investigate that?

The bad news continues. Sonia is not the only Congress leader under cloud. Oommen Chandy. P Chidambaram. Digvijay Singh. Ashok Gehlot. Sachin Pilot. Mallikarjun Kharge. Veerappa Moily. Shashi Tharoor. They have all been in the news in connection with some case or the other.

On top of that Sonia is not the only accused in the National Herald case. There's Motilal Vora, Oscar Fernandes, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda. This is like a domino game. If one falls, then all of them fall.

But then if Sonia represents the past and present of the Congress, then her son and Vice President Rahul Gandhi represents the future. Even that is in doubt now. Both Sonia and Rahul are co-accused in the National Herald case.

Whatever trauma Sonia faces so will Rahul. They will either be saved together or they will sink together.

Some desperate Congressmen have likened the situation similar to when Indira lost power in 1977 but still made a comeback in 1980 to the Prime Minister's chair. However there are too many differences between the circumstances of Indira and Sonia.

One—at that time Indira had a good 153 Lok Sabha seats to play with but Sonia only has 45.

Two—the 1977 Janata Party was in disarray from Day 1 and looked like falling apart which it eventually did. This time the BJP has 280 seats in the Lok Sabha and is good to go till 2019.

Three—at that time Indira was still India's most popular leader for the Prime Minister's post as stalwart Jayaprakash Narain was a Mahatma Gandhi like father figure. Now Prime Minister Narendra Modi is by far the most popular.

Four—Indira was arrested on flimsy charges and the court threw the case out. In fact that had led to a conspiracy theory that Home Minister Charan Singh knew this and purposely arrested her to help her. Charan did subsequently lose his Home Ministry and much later get Indira's support for his prime ministership.
Sonia has not been arrested in a haphazard manner like that. Both the Sessions Court and High Court have accepted that there is merit in the case and this is one trial that will go on to the very end.

Five—Congress had its credibility intact in the 1970s. It was still respected and known as the freedom party. Today in 2015 there's hardly anyone alive who was an adult in 1947 and witnessed the glorious act of Independence.

So is this the endgame for Sonia? We see that there is a very distinct possibility that we could finally have a Dynasty-mukt Congress. The party will be thrown into total disarray if that happens. The Congress will then have the most contentious task of choosing a new party president.

That could tear the party apart as someone had mentioned that the Dynasty is the only glue it has to keep itself together.

It will be disastrous for the party in the short run and great for the BJP.

However in the long run, it will be great for the country and maybe not that much for the BJP if the Congress finally gets it act together and gives a semblance of a fight in the 2019 general elections.

2016 promises to be a really stormy year one must say!

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here

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