Cong in Swamy second thoughts

Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, Nov. 2: The Congress seems to have decided against dragging Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy to court a day after Rahul Gandhi's office threatened him with a defamation suit for levelling "false and entirely baseless" allegations.

Swamy had yesterday accused Sonia Gandhi and Rahul of improper acquisition of a company and concealing the information.

Congress spokesperson P.C. Chako today denied any wrongdoing by Sonia or Rahul but indicated there was no plan to file a defamation suit. "We don't take him seriously. If he has any case against the Congress, he should go to court," Chacko said.

Swamy yesterday told a news conference that Rahul and Sonia had floated a company called "Young Indian" with a shareholding of 38 per cent each, and the company had acquired Associated Journals, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru, which published the National Herald and Qaumi Awaz.

He said Associated Journals had obtained an unsecured loan of over Rs 90 crore from the All India Congress Committee, which he claimed was illegal because a political party cannot give loans for commercial purposes.

He also alleged that the AICC had written off the loan, for which Young Indian was liable, against the payment of a mere Rs 50 lakh. The intention, Swamy alleged, was to grab prized property that Associated Journals owned in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

"We are committed to pursuing all legal actions against the scandalous abuse evident in your so-called press conference," said the letter issued to Swamy by S. Ramakrishnan from Rahul's office.

Swamy denied receiving any letter from Rahul's office. "My advice to Rahul Gandhi is 'Grow up, go to the court and file a defamation case'. I will fight him there," he told a news channel.

Singhvi relief

The Congress has allowed Abhishek Singhvi to appear in TV discussions on its behalf in what may be a precursor to his formal reinstatement as spokesperson.

Singhvi was removed from the spokespersons' panel after a CD showed him with a woman. Although Singhvi obtained a court injunction on the display of the CD, several Internet sites uploaded it, forcing the Congress to act.

Singhvi has since been lying low though he has continued to appear in the Supreme Court. Manish Tewari's elevation as minister has, however, created a vacancy for a lawyer in the party media cell.