Addressing a press conference here, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said former Finance Minister Chidambaram favoured seven private companies, including Fire Star Diamond of Nirav Modi and Gitanjali Gems of Mehul Choksi, under the 80:20 gold scheme on the day of election results in 2014.
The 80:20 scheme was launched in August 2013 to curb gold imports to tame the current account deficit. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had eased some of the curbs and private agencies were allowed to import gold under the scheme that mandated traders to export 20 percent of all gold imported while retaining 80 percent for domestic use.
"Then Finance Minister (P. Chidambaram), who is also a constitution expert and a lawyer, must know that when the election results are expected; the government becomes a lame duck. But on the day of declaration of results (May 16, 2014), the Finance Minister gave 'aashirvaad' (blessing) to seven private companies under 80:20 Gold Scheme. Out of those seven companies, one was Gitanjali Gems and other was Star Fire Brand," Prasad added.
Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi are accused in the multi-crore scam that has rattled the country and economy.
He demanded an explanation from Chidambaram as well as Congress President Rahul Gandhi that why were these seven companies given permission on the day of election results.
"It was found that in the name of jewellery only heavy gold bangles were being made and exported to do round-tripping of gold. Chidambaram and Rahul Gandhi must answer why the permission was granted on the day of results to benefit these seven private companies?" the Union Minister asked.
Demanding that the real image of Chidambaram should come before the nation, Prasad added that Chidambaram was not acting on his own but there was a direct blessing (from Congress).
"Mr. Chidambaram, please reply. Is it a jumla or patent favouritism, mala fide conduct and rampant corruption? He should also answer who were those persons who were lobbying for those companies and what was the cut?" Prasad said.
In November 2014, the NDA government removed restrictions on gold imports, scrapping the controversial 80:20 scheme amid allegations of misuse by half a dozen companies.