A political storm hit the Narendra Modi-led government and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after a news website reported that a company run by party chief Amit Shah's son, Jay Amit Shah, recorded a 16,000-times increase in turnover in only a year after Modi became the Prime Minister and the senior Shah the party president. In a statement that the BJP released on Sunday evening, Jay said he would be filing civil and criminal defamation
cases against the news website's owners, editor, and the author of the article in Ahmedabad, where he runs his business, and sue them for Rs 100 crore in damages.
The Congress, CPI-M, and the AAP
on Sunday sought an inquiry into allegations against Jay Shah
and a company linked to him. (Read all about the political storm kicked up by the report on Amit Shah's son
Responding to the article, the BJP rubbished the allegations and Jay Shah
issued a statement saying the article carried by the website, The Wire
, had made "false, derogatory and defamatory imputations" against him. (Read more about how BJP responded to the article
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi took a swipe at the Modi government and said the beneficiary of demonetisation had finally been found. "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," Gandhi said in a tweet.
These developments came over a report, written by Rohini Singh in The Wire
, detailing the growth of Jay Shah's company, Temple Enterprise
Private Ltd, from revenues of Rs 50,000 in 2014-15 to Rs 80.5 crore in 2015-16.
The controversy comes at a politically significant moment with election to the Gujarat Assembly barely 60 days away, and the winter session of Parliament scheduled to start in the first half of November.
Here are the top 10 developments
1) Shah Jr accuses website, author of defamation: Jay Shah
on Sunday refuted the story alleging that his private business rose to an astronomical level after the BJP came to power at the Centre and called it "false and derogatory". In a press statement issued hours after the website, The Wire
, released the story, Jay Shah
said: "The article makes false, derogatory and defamatory imputation against me by creating in the minds of right-thinking people an impression that my business owes its 'success' to my father Shri Amitbhai Shah's political position." (Read more here
2) Jay Shah claims Rs 100 crore in damages:
Shah said his businesses were completely transparent and conducted legally, which was indicated by the tax compliances. Shah stated that his lawyer had given details of all his legitimate transactions to the website since he "had nothing to hide". The statement said: "Since the website has proceeded in making an absolutely false imputation in a highly slanted article thereby damaging my reputation, I have decided to prosecute the Author, Editor/(s) and the Owner/(s) of the aforesaid news website for criminal defamation
and sue them for an amount of Rs 100 crores. Both the actions will be filed at Ahmedabad where I stay, carry on my business and where the cause of action has arisen." (Read more here
3) Piyush Goyal sent in to douse fire:
The government sent Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to do the firefighting as Opposition parties picked up on the article. Responding to the Opposition's demands for a probe, Goyal told the media that the title of the report was "mischievous" to defame Amit Shah
and the use of the figure "16,000 times" an attempt to sensationalise the issue. "Jay Shah
carries out a fully legitimate and lawful business on commercial lines which are reflected in income tax returns and transactions in banks," Goyal said.
4) Goyal hits back with Vadra case: Goyal also rubbished the allegations levelled by the Congress saying it was "old Congress style". "I wish the Congress would also come clean and if at all they have nothing to hide, not go to court to try and stop Justice Dhingra Commission report that deals with the truth about the dealings of the Gandhi family," he said. After the BJP came to power in the state, the Dhingra Commisison was set up by the Haryana government to look into alleged irregularities in land dealings by Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra.
5) Congress takes aim at BJP:
On Sunday, Congress leader Kapil Sibal said at a press conference that Temple Enterprises had recorded losses in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 of Rs 6,230 and Rs 1,724, respectively, but showed a profit of about Rs 18,000 in 2014-15. The following year (2015-16), its turnover jumped to a whopping Rs 80 crore, he said. The change in fortunes of the company came after it received an unsecured loan of Rs 15.78 crore from KIFS Financial Services owned by a relative of a BJP Rajya Sabha member, Sibal claimed. The Congress leader also alleged that Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, a PSU under Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, had given a loan of Rs 10. 25 crore to Kusum Finserv, a limited liability partnership or LLP, in which Jay Shah
had a 60 per cent stake, even though this company had no prior experience of operating in the power sector. (Read more here
6) Sibal calls for action from Modi:
Referring to Prime Minister Modi's self-given moniker, Sibal said: "We are only saying that pradhan sevak (Modi) should probe because this is excellent example of crony capitalism." Sibal later countered Goyal and asked if it was right for him as a minister to defend Jay Shah.
"Why is Piyush Goyal, being a minister, defending Shah? He can defend the government. Does he (Goyal) keep talking to Jay Shah.
Is there so much closeness?" He also countered Goyal over his charges on the Dhingra commission report and said it was the BJP-ruled Haryana Government that did not want to put the report in the public domain. (Read more here
7) AAP calls for probe:
Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh also held a press conference on Sunday and made similar allegations, saying the fortunes of Amit Shah's son rose after the BJP came to power and he became the party chief. The AAP
demanded a probe into the matter. (Read more here
8) Yechury digs up Advani:
Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said in a tweet: "Serious corruption charges against BJP President's son need investigation. BJP Presidents eg Advani, Laxman had resigned on lesser charges." Yechury also lashed out at the government for defending Shah's son by sending out a minister to field the questions, adding that the Centre had cleared the additional solicitor general to defend Shah's son. (Read more here
9) TMC brings in ED, CBI:
The Trinamool Congress on Sunday took a swipe at the BJP over the matter, wondering if it would now use the CBI or the ED to probe the allegations against BJP chief Amit Shah's son, just as it has been quick to use these agencies against other political parties. "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. (Read more here
10) The report's allegations: The website, The Wire, said its findings were based on filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). The report, The Golden Touch of Jay Amit Shah, was published on Sunday morning. The report, which seemed to draw a parallel of the current case with that of the alleged land deals by Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, said the revenue of the company owned by Jay jumped from a meagre Rs 50,000 to over Rs 80 crore in a single year. The report also flagged how Jay’s company, whose business is primarily stock trading, turned to generating wind power with a loan from a public sector enterprise. The news website’s report alleged Jay’s company, Temple Enterprises Private Limited, was engaged in negligible activity in financial years ended March 2013 and 2014, recording losses of Rs 6,230 and Rs 1,724, respectively. It alleged the revenues of the company witnessed an “astonishing surge” in the financial year ended March 2015, when the firm received an unsecured loan of Rs 15.78 crore from a financial services firm owned by Rajesh Khandawala, the samdhi (in-law) of Parimal Nathwani, a Rajya Sabha member and top executive of Reliance Industries. It said the revenue of Rs 50,000 increased to over Rs 80 crore in a single year. It said Jay’s company suddenly stopped its business activities in October 2016.