Piyush Goyal says Jay Amit Shah will sue website for Rs 100 crore for 'malicious article'; Congress, Left, TMC demand probe
Piyush Goyal said that Amit Shah's son Jay Shah will initiate civil and criminal defamation proceedings against The Wire, suing them Rs 100 crores for publishing 'malicious article' against his business
Launching a scathing attack against the editors and owners of The Wire for publishing an article on Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's business, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union railway minister Piyush Goyal declared to initiate "civil and criminal defamation proceedings against the news publication suing them for Rs 100 crore".
The article in question, authored by Rohini Singh and published on The Wire website, "The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah" alleged that as per filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC), Jay Shah's business boomed over 16,000 times within a year of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's electoral win in 2014. Addressing a press conference, Goyal said that the defamation case will be filed at Ahmedabad where Jay carries out his business. Regarding the title of the report, Goyal retorted: "The name 'Jay Amit Bhai Shah' is used in the title. By giving this mischievous title they (The Wire) are trying to defame Amit Shah. The use of the figure '16,000' is just an attempt to sensationalise the matter." Defending Jay's business transactions in question, Goyal said, "It is a totally malicious and defamatory article. Jay carries out a fully legitimate and lawful business on commercial lines which are reflected in income tax (filings) and transactions in banks." As per The Wire report, Jay’s company, Temple Enterprise Private Ltd, jumped from its revenue of Rs 50,000 in 2014-2015 to Rs 80.5 crore in 2015-2016.
According to the RoC filings, quoted in the report, the company is engaged in wholesale trade, primarily of agricultural products like desi chana and coriander seeds. The report also said that the company received an unsecured loan of Rs 15.78 crore from a financial services firm owned by Rajesh Khandwala, promoter of KIFS Financial Service and the in-law of Parimal Nathwani, a BJP-supported Rajya Sabha MP and senior executive of Reliance Industries. Responding to it, Goyal further elaborated, "Mischievous efforts were made by putting photographs of Rajesh Khandwala and Parimal Nathwani together. Khandwala is an old family friend of Jay's. KIFS is a registered NBFC as well." "We thoroughly reject these baseless allegations and the deplorable effort to attribute motives," said Goyal. Furthermore, Goyal said, "All loans were fully paid along with interest after deducting tax at source. Jay responded to the author's questionnaire with full transaction details as he had nothing to hide." Goyal also said Rs 80 crores was not a "huge turnover" in the commodity business. "Agricultural commodity trading has high value, low margin. Any new business is bound to grow," he added.
Congress, Left, Trinamool Congress demand probe
Training their guns at the Narendra Modi government by citing the news story's content, the Congress, the Left and the AAP demanded an investigation, with Congress leader Kapil Sibal alleging that it was a case of "crony capitalism".
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at 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 Gandhi calling him "shahzada" (prince). In a tweet, he said:
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 https://t.co/2zHlojgR2c — Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) October 8, 2017
Gandhi further tweeted:
मोदीजी, जय शाह- 'जादा' खा गया|
आप चौकीदार थे या भागीदार? कुछ तो बोलिए
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) October 9, 2017
At a press conference on Sunday, Sibal, citing the RoC filings, also alleged that a firm — Kusum Finserve LLP — in which Jay Amit Shah 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 Amit Shah got 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 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 in the evening, Sibal wondered why Goyal, a Union minister, had to defend Jay Shah. "From an official platform, he (Goyal) defended Jay Shah. 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.
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.
CPM's Sitaram Yechury claimed that it was the latest in a series of cases of corruption under the Modi government.
"Today, we ask a question to the prime minister, the pradhan sevak.... Now, what do you have to say about crony capitalism? Will you give direction to the CBI to probe the matter? Will you ask the ED to arrest these people," Sibal asked at a press conference.
"BJP ever so quick to use CBI/ED against other political parties. Why not now when it comes to one of their own; son of their party president? Media now needs to be fearless," Derek O'Brien, TMC Parliamentary Party leader in the Rajya Sabha, said in a statement.
O'Brien's statement came as several opposition parties demanded a probe into claims in a media report that a company owned by BJP chief Amit Shah's son saw a massive rise in its turnover after the BJP came to power in 2014.
Goyal also lashed out at Congress for its remarks following the publication of the article, and said, "I wish the Congress would come clean and not stop the Justice SN Dhingra Commission report and tell the truth about the Congress family. We do not take umbrage under falsehoods as the Congress is known to do over and over again."
"The article makes false, derogatory and defamatory imputation against me by creating in the minds of the right-thinking people an impression that my business owes its 'success' to my father Shri Amitbhai Shah's political position.... My businesses are fully legitimate and conducted in a lawful manner on commercial lines, which is reflected in my tax records, and are through banking transactions," Shah's son said in the statement.
Several other BJP leaders came to the defence of the party chief and his son, with general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya insisting,"If there is no honesty in Amit Shah's home, there cannot be honesty anywhere".
In Coimbatore, Union minister Ananth Kumar said the allegations against Jay Shah were "foisted falsely".
"Congress does not have any issue and so is out to tarnish the image of Amit Shah. Instead, they should give a clarification on son-in-law model of doing business," Uttar Pradesh minister Siddharth Nath Singh said.
The Dhingra Commission report earlier found that businessman, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and brother-in-law of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Robert Vadra made illegal profits of Rs 50.5 crore from a land deal in Haryana in 2008 without spending a single penny.
Issuing a strong caveat to The Wire, Goyal said, "They are requested not to publish anything in this (Jay Shah's business) regard which would not be just libelous but also defamatory."
Meanwhile, NDTV reported that government lawyer Tushar Mehta may represent Jay in the matter.
"I have taken permission from the Law Ministry on 6th October for this issue. I am being consulted in this case. I may even appear for the case in court," Mehta, who is the additional solicitor general, told NDTV.
With inputs from PTI
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