A rattled Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday tied itself up in knots while dismissing allegations of ‘personal corruption’ raised by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi at a public rally earlier in the day on the home turf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP national president Amit Shah.
From belittling and abusing the Congress leader to calling the Prime Minister to be as pure as the holy river ‘Ganga’, party spokesmen laboured over the point that the allegation need not be taken seriously. But they evaded a direct answer to the question raised by the Congress leader, namely whether as chief minister of Gujarat the Prime Minister had directly received money from the Sahara Group of companies and the Aditya Birla Group.
While trying to drag Congress leaders into the AgustaWestland helicopter scam, BJP spokesmen failed to explain why names and initials on scraps of paper should be taken to be conclusive proof of guilt in AgustaWestland case but not in the case of Sahara/ Birla papers.
Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala regretted that while the BJP was using expletives, it was shying away from responding to the simple question raised. “ The credibility of the Prime Minister is at stake, honesty and integrity of the Prime Minister of the country is at stake. We all have great respect for Modi Ji. Congress Vice President and the Congress Party respect Modi Ji. However, there are pieces of evidence which prima-facie raise questions on the conduct of the Prime Minister,” he told the media at a briefing.
The Prime Minister, he added, must come forward and say whether he took money from Birla, whether he took money from Sahara, whether these entries are true or false and if they are false, why he should not subject himself to an investigation.
While trying to drag Congress leaders into the AgustaWestland helicopter scam, BJP spokesmen failed to explain why names and initials on scraps of paper should be taken to be conclusive proof of guilt in AgustaWestland case but not in the case of Sahara/ Birla papers
The allegations are not based on hearsay, not based on political mudslinging but based on two pieces of documents that are in custody of Income Tax Department and Central Bureau of Investigation for the last 30 months now, he pointed out.
“Has the CBI even once questioned Modi Ji? Has Income Tax ever called Modi Ji for questioning, if in place of Modi Ji, if it was one of you or any other person of this country, would that person not have been questioned?” he asked.
Surjewala said that none of the pieces of evidence are diary entries–one is an e-mail recovered from the personal computer and e-mail ID of the Group Vice President of Birla Group Companies. Under the new IT Act, the e-mails are an admissible evidence. The other are excel sheets and computer print-outs–on one side the sheet shows where the money came from–on the other side, it reflects to whom the money was paid.
Responding to insinuations that the Congress leader had raised the corruption charge out of frustration and as a diversionary strategy to divert attention from the investigation in the AgustaWestland helicopter, Surjewala wondered why the Government had not placed the evidence before the country.
“Is it also not correct that the same Company which they call fraudulent has been made part of the PM's Make-in-India Programme and permitted to participate in Aero India Exhibition? Is it not correct that same Modi Government has removed the blacklisting of Agusta Westland? Is it not correct that the same Modi Government has made Agusta Westland a sub-contractor in Government of India's Defence contract of 22nd August 2014?”