The political slugfest over the Nirav Modi scam continued on Saturday with both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Opposition Congress accusing each other of links with the absconding jeweller.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were quiet on the matter, while Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman returned the volley by saying that the Congress had no moral right to accuse the BJP since its own leader, Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s family had rented out property to Nirav Modi’s company in Mumbai.
Singhvi issued a statement claiming that his family company has no connections with Nirav Modi’s firms, except that of renting them some property. “The tenancy ended in December 2017,” he said. Singhvi added that Sitharaman was liable to civil and criminal defamation for making false allegations.
Sitharaman also harped on the allegation that Rahul Gandhi had attended a promotional event of Gitanjali Gems, the company owned by Mehul Choksi, on September 13, 2013. She said two days later, a proposal for a loan of Rs 15.5 billion was put up in Allahabad Bank’s board meeting. “One director opposes it. He is asked to resign. Join the dots,” she said.
Rahul Gandhi said the government was using diversionary tactics and tried to link the banking fraud with demontisation of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes on November 8, 2016. Questioning the silence of the PM and the FM, he said: “The PM can address school students for one-and-a-half hours, but he is silent on the scam.”
He added that it was the PM’s duty to assure the country that the banking system was safe.
Earlier in the day, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said more such skeletons would come out of cupboard since “crony capitalists with proximity to the PM, who travel with him overseas in his aircraft and buy mines abroad” have a market capitalisation of Rs 46 billion but their debt was Rs 94 billion.
He said the Central Bureau of Investigation FIR made it evident that all the 151 letters of understanding in question were of 2017. “We are making a direct allegation against the PM and FM that they knew about this scam,” Sibal said.