Sunday, August 10, 2014


5,000 shareholders are big losers in National Herald case
ABHIMANYU SINGH  New Delhi | 9th Aug 2014
he big losers in the National Herald saga are the original shareholders of Associated Journals Ltd and their heirs. The list of around 5,000 shareholders included many former Congressmen, freedom fighters and corporate entities. With the exception of Mrs Sonia Gandhi's relatives and a couple of loyalists, none of them have any legal heir participating in the company as a shareholder or are on the Board of Directors of a company which their ancestors built and funded. The heirs of the original shareholders (with the exception of the Nehru-Gandhi family) have all but vanished from Associated Journals Limited, the company which brought out the National Herald. None of them have been given a stake in Young Indian, a private company owned and managed by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul and a few family loyalists. The Young Indian, a private firm incorporated in 2010, acquired AJL after it folded up in 2008 because of mounting losses.
AJL published an English newspaper, National Herald, an Urdu newspaper, Qaumi Awaz, and the National Herald International Weekly.
Documents available with The Sunday Guardian show that among the original shareholders of the Associated Journals Ltd., a company founded by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, were many illustrious people.
* Feroze Gandhi (Anand Bhawan, Allahabad), husband of Indira Gandhi and grandfather of Rahul and Varun Gandhi, held ten shares in AJL.
* Indira Gandhi, former PM, owned 50 shares.
* Jawaharlal Nehru owned 3 shares.
* G.D. Birla (8, Royal Exchange Place, Calcutta), famous industrialist, held 15 shares.
* Kailash Nath Katju (Edmonston Road, Allahabad), father of Markandeya Katju, present chairman of Press Council of India, held 138 shares.
Other luminaries who owned shares in AJL include Rajni Patel, famous barrister and Congressman from Mumbai; Mohd. Yunus, a Congressman and Gandhi family loyalist; Vijayalakshmi Pandit, sister of Jawaharlal Nehru and mother of famous writer Nayantara Sehgal; Sucheta Kripalani, first woman Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh; Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Union minister in India's first Cabinet; Purushottam Das Tandon, freedom fighter, who was later awarded the Bharat Ratna; Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia of Gwalior, who was with the BJP; and her son Madhavrao Scindia, Congressman who died in a plane crash, among others.
A number of business houses also owned shares in AJL. For example, Abhimat Investment (P) Limited, a Mumbai based company held 10,0000 shares in the company.
Three Sareen brothers (Sunil, Suresh and Agya Pal) from Delhi, all businessmen, held a total of 40,000 shares in AJL. A Mumbai based company, Scindia Investment (P) Ltd held 5,000 shares.
Lady Newah Bai Ratan Tata, senior trustee of Sir Ratan Tata Trust of Mumbai held 3,000 shares.
State level Congress committees also held shares in AJL. For example, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee held 15,000 shares. The President, United Provinces (erstwhile Uttar Pradesh) Congress Committee, held 1,200 shares.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, sister of Rahul Gandhi, held over 2 lakh shares in AJL, whereas the Congress vice-president held close to 50,000 shares.
The Young Indian, according to additional papers with this newspaper, has Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Suman Dubey, Motilal Vohra, Oscar Fernandes, and Sam Pitroda as its Key Management Personnel (KMP).
By a resolution, the board of directors of AJL approved the allotment of 90,216,898 equity shares of Rs 10 each, "in consideration of the extinguishment of the amount of Rs. 902168980", to Young Indian, as a loan from the AICC, after a meeting of the shareholders in 2011, papers available with The Sunday Guardian show.
The marginalization and exclusion of the heirs of the original shareholders of the Associated Journals Limited is the unwritten saga of the controversy. The public debate has focused on the route by which Congress Party funds were transferred to AJL and later, how AJL itself came into the control of Young Indian, a company where Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi hold a controlling 76% equity interest. Not a tear has been shed for the thousands of families who braved the ire of the British Raj in the 1930s to invest in AJL, and who have been totally excluded from participation in decision-making as well as reduced to insignificance in the revised equity structure of AJL as also Young Indian.

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