The controversy around BJP chief Amit Shah's son Jay Shah and the report published by The Wire claiming his firm's turnover grew manifold after the BJP came to power, has gained considerable Opposition voice against it. From Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee to CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and former Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, several leading Opposition members have launched scathing attack on the prime minister and the BJP chief.
Were you the watchman, or were you complicit, Rahul Gandhi asks Narendra Modi
Spearheading the Congress' assault, Rahul took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and pressed him to "say something" on claims made in the report. He used the word "shahzada" to describe Shah's son. At election meetings in 2014, Modi had often targeted the Congress vice-president calling him "shahzada" (prince). "Did you act as a watchman (chowkidar) or were you complicit? Please say something," Gandhi tweeted in Hindi.
मोदीजी, जय शाह- 'जादा' खा गया|
आप चौकीदार थे या भागीदार? कुछ तो बोलिए
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) October 9, 2017
On Tuesday, Rahul quoted a report and took a jibe at one of BJP government's key schemes: Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao
While tagging a copy of the report, published by news website The Wire, Gandhi on Monday had taken a jibe at the BJP chief,"We finally found the only beneficiary of demonetisation. It's not the RBI, the poor or the farmers. It's the Shah-in-Shah of Demo. Jai Amit."
The Congress on Sunday night held a press conference, which was headed by senior leader Kapil Sibal who lashed out the BJP and alleged that a firm — Kusum Finserve LLP — in which Jay had a 60 percent stake, had got a contract in Madhya Pradesh in the wind power sector, despite the company being engaged in stock trading.
Sibal also alleged that a company owned by Jay received a loan of Rs 25 crore from a cooperative bank without sufficient collateral security, besides a loan of Rs 10.35 crore from the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA), a public sector firm under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, which was headed by Piyush Goyal.
To a query on whether there was any wrongdoing, Sibal said, "I am talking about crony capitalism. Offence will come to light when we get to know why the loan was sanctioned. We know who the CBI and ED will investigate and who the agencies will not investigate. The issue is whether the prime minister is honest enough to say that investigate the son of Amit Shah."
Later on Sunday evening, Sibal wondered why Goyal, a Union minister, had to defend Jay. "From an official platform, he (Goyal) defended Jay. He should be defending the government," the former law minister told reporters. He also questioned Goyal's defence of the cooperative bank which had extended the loan to Jay Shah. He said the bank, and not a Union minister, should defend the loan.
Goyal, in his defence, told The Indian Express, "Insinuations have been made that sought to create the wrong perception... We are defending because the party president and the prime minister have been dragged in, and I have an obligation towards the party and the government."
The Congress fielded its senior spokesman Anand Sharma in New Delhi where he demanded constitution of a Commission of Inquiry with two Supreme Court judges to probe the matter. "We demand the prime minister... he speaks a lot everyday and on each issue. He should break his silence on this issue and declare a Commission of Inquiry comprising two Supreme Court judges. There should be a neutral probe," he told reporters.
The Congress leader also said that just as LK Advani and Nitin Gadkari, who stepped down from their posts pending inquiries, Amit Shah should also resign. "It is a tough call for Modi. The country is looking at him whether he will choose friendship and party politics or truth and morality," Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said in Jaipur.
Calling for transparency and accountability, he said, "Why shy away from probe if there is nothing wrong? There is no smoke without fire. The country was waiting for development... but 'Jay ka Vikas ho gaya'."
In Kolkata, party spokesperson Gaurav Gogoi said Modi should prove that he is above party politics and demanded a probe into the claims made in the report.
Jay, who filed a defamation suit against The Wire for reporting that his firm's turnover grew manifold after the party came to power in 2014, in his application prayed for "criminal action against the respondents for defaming and tarnishing the reputation of the complainant through an article, which is scandalous, frivolous, misleading, derogatory, libelous and consisting of several defamatory statements".
The seven respondents in the case are the author of the article Rohini Singh, founding editors of the news portal Siddarth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia and MK Venu, managing editor Monobina Gupta, public editor Pamela Philipose and the Foundation for Independent Journalism, the non-profit company that publishes The Wire.
In its article, The Wire had claimed Jay's firm Temple Enterprise's turnover zoomed by around 16,000 times from Rs 50,000 to around Rs 80 crore in 2015-16 after the BJP came to power in 2014.
While majority of the Opposition parties demanded a fair and judicial probe into the ongoing controversy, ruling party in West Bengal Trinamool Congress on Sunday said the BJP in the Centre was "so quick to use" Central agencies against other political parties, "why not now when it comes to one of their own". "BJP ever so quick to use CBI/ED against other pol parties.Why not now when it comes to one of their own ;son of their party president," said the party's offical Twitter handle quoting its Rajya Sabha leader Derek O'Brien.
BJP ever so quick to use CBI/ED against other pol parties.Why not now when it comes to one of their own ;son of their party president ? 1/2
— AITC (@AITCofficial) October 8, 2017
... Media now needs to be fearless 2/2 Derek : AITC leader in Rajya Sabha — AITC (@AITCofficial) October 8, 2017
Prithviraj Chavan demands Amit Shah's resignation
Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan sought to know if Jay was aware of the demonetisation decision of the Centre beforehand. The former Maharashtra chief minister also demanded the resignation of Amit Shah over the controversy surrounding his businessman son. The BJP, however, came out in strong defence of Jay and rejected the allegations against him.
"This is nothing but crony capitalism by the BJP. Why did Jay Shah close down his company a day before demonetisation was announced? Was he aware of what was going to happen in advance?" Chavan sought to know while speaking to reporters here.
"BJP chief Amit Shah should immediately resign," the former Union minister added.
He said either Amit Shah or Arun Jaitley should clarify how Jay's company increased its turnover manifold after the BJP came to power at the Centre in May 2014. Chavan claimed that a company owned by Jay got a loan of Rs 10.36 crore from a public sector firm under the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, headed by Piyush Goyal, against a collateral security of just Rs six crore.
"Jay's company did not have any previous experience in windmills or in the renewable energy sector. Yet, Goyal approved the huge loan against a collateral security of just Rs six crore," he said. Chavan said Kusum Finserve, a company in which Jay Shah had a 60 percent stake, bought wind farms in Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, despite it being engaged in stock trading. "Kusum Finserve was involved in trading of shares. Then, suddenly it bought wind farms in Ratlam. This again is an example of crony capitalism," he alleged.
"This raises many questions which cannot be shrugged off by filing a defamation suit. Amit Shah himself should answer whether he misused his position. These dealings should be probed by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI," Chavan said.
'Caesar's wife should be above suspicion,' says MK Stalin
DMK leader MK Stalin also raised questions over the alleged windfall returns for Jay's firm after BJP came to power. He was quick to comment on the recent crackdown on Opposition party leaders facing corruption allegations. He commented that the saffron party was quick to unleash the law enforcement agencies on its opponents but will it follow its own precedence when the credibility of the party's national president was at stake?
"When there are allegations against opposition leaders, the central government is taking action immediately in the form of raids by the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate and the income tax department. Now there are accusations against the BJP chief's son. Modi must come out clean on the issue. Will he do?" Stalin asked.
"Ceasar's wife should be above suspicion. Modi being the Prime Minister, will he take necessary actions to find the truth?" asked Stalin.
Why aren't we hearing a single word from Narendra Modi, asks D Raja
Senior CPM leader D Raja on Tuesday demanded a response from Modi over the Shah controversy. He said a probe should be initiated to reveal the truth.
"Why we are not hearing a single word from Modi regarding allegations against Amit Shah's son? We want that he should respond to the matter and should constitute a probe to bring out the truth. Let the allegations be probed," Raja told PTI.
He said the time has come for the prime minister to act instead of pointing fingers at others.
Raja, speaking on the issue of holding Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls simultaneously, said, "India is not a two-party democracy, it is a multi-party democracy where you have to create a national consensus before taking a decision. You cannot impose your whims on other political parties."
The CPM leader stressed on the need for creating a broader platform with the Left, secular and democratic forces, including the Congress to counter the BJP and RSS.
"We are in favour of creating a broader platform with the Left, secular and democratic forces, including Congress to counter the BJP, RSS in India. Congress is a pan-India political party. But yes, the Congress needs to rework its economic policies," he said.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Oct 10, 2017 18:42 PM