Did Narendra Modi receive over ₹40 crore from a single business house when he was Gujarat’s Chief Minister, asked Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday while addressing a public rally at Mehsana in Gujarat, the home turf of both Narendra Modi and BJP National President Amit Shah.
Giving details from Sahara papers, allegedly confiscated by the Income Tax Department from three premises of Sahara Group of companies in the national capital in November, 2014, the Congress leader alleged that between October 30, 2013 and February 22, 2014 the then chief minister of Gujarat was paid ₹40.1 crore.
Daring the Prime Minister to refute the charge, the Congress leader said that although two years have passed since the Income Tax raid, according to his information no investigation had been carried out. He also mentioned that in a CBI raid on the Aditya Birla Group, papers had been seized which indicated ₹25 crore had been paid to the then Gujarat CM.
Officials of both the groups, according to reports, are learnt to have been questioned by the CBDT and authenticated the documents seized. In any case the documents seized by the Income Tax Department carry the signature of the Deputy Director, Income Tax and witnesses.
A petition filed by the NGO Common Cause seeking a SIT inquiry into the seizures is pending before the Supreme Court and is likely to be heard on January 11. Prashant Bhushan, Common Cause’s counsel, tweeted the references to ‘Gujarat CM’ in the Aditya Birla Group papers, which are also part of Common Cause’s PIL.
Rahul Gandhi had earlier claimed that he had information about the Prime Minister’s ‘personal’ corruption’ which he said he wanted to expose in Parliament but was never allowed to speak. It is not immediately known if these were the allegations he had in mind.
In its initial reaction, the Bharatiya Janata Party dismissed the allegations as ‘baseless’ and without any basis. BJP’s national general secretary Shrikant Sharma brushed off the seriousness of the allegation by saying that the BJP did not take Rahul Gandhi seriously.
The party however fielded Law and Communication minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to debunk the ‘shameful’ allegations levelled by Rahul Gandhi. He said the charges against the Prime Minister reflected his frustration. The Congress, he said, was no longer taken seriously by people and the party has been losing even civic body elections.
He also alleged that Rahul Gandhi was worried about names of his family in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal and therefore his allegations against the Prime Minister are meant as diversionary tactics. The Union minister also said that Rahul Gandhi, who is out on bail in the National Herald case, has no credential to make baseless and distasteful allegations against the ‘pure’ and ‘honest’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Congress immediately hit back, with the AICC’s head of Communications Randeep Surjewala saying the PM must come forward and say whether or not he took money from Sahara and Birla, adding that the “Credibility, honesty and integrity of PM Modi at stake.”
In the wake of Rahul Gandhi’s allegations, other Opposition party leaders echoed the demands for a probe.