New Delhi, August 31: The defunct mouthpiece of the Indian National Congress, the National Herald will go into print once again, eight years after being pulled out of circulation. Journalist Neelabh Mishra will be the new editor-in-chief of the newspaper, media reports said on Wednesday. The decision to restart the paper was taken at a meeting of the paper’s publishers- the Associated Journals Limited (AJL)- at an extraordinary meeting in January 21. The general meeting had called all its shareholders to seek their permission to relaunch three papers- the Herald, Navjivan and Quami Awaz.
AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora told PTI, last month, ”The Associated Journals Limited (AJL) had decided in January to re-launch its newspapers, the National Herald, Quami Awaj and Navjivan. The process for implementation is on.” The National Herald was published in English, Navjivan in Hindi and Qami Awaaz in Urdu. The National Herald newspaper was launched during the freedom struggle in 1938 by Jawaharlal Nehru, who would later go on to become the first Prime Minister of independent India. The paper served as a mouthpiece for the Grand Old party. However, over the years, its popularity started to wane, and finances dried out. The paper finally folded in 2008, with a debt of Rs. 90 crores. ALSO READ: National Herald, Qaumi Awaaz and Navjiwan newspapers to be re-launched by Congress
Interestingly, the notice to call a meeting to try and relaunch the paper, came a day before Congress party president Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi were to appear before a trial court in Delhi, in relation to a case filed on them by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy, who alleged financial irregularities by the ownership of the paper. In a bid to keep AJL and the paper afloat, the Congress gave the company, unsecured, interest-free loans for some years up to 2010. However, in 2010 AJL was bought over by newly floated company the Young India Limited. Gandhi family loyalists Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda were the directors of this new company.
The All India Congress Committee, allegedly assigned the Rs. 90 crore debt owed to it by AJL, to YIL, making the latter the new owner of the debt, in the books. However, in December 2010, the AJL is said to have transferred its entire euity to YIL, in lieu of the debt. YIL paid Rs. 50 Lakhs for the acquisition, making AJL a fully-owned subsidiary of Young India. Subsequently, Rahul Gandhi was appointed as its director and Sonia Gandhi also joined the Board of Directors, and so did Motilal Vora and Oscar Fernandes. As per documents, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi each hold 38 per cent shares in the company. Vora and Fernandes own the rest of 48 per cent, divided equally amongst themselves.