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Congress' Kapil Sibal hits back at Smriti Irani over 'land scam' charges

Irani on Thursday demanded an explanation from Rahul Gandhi over Sibal's alleged land dealing with a businessman who was investigated by the CBI in 2013 for alleged bribery

Smriti Irani

HRD Minister Smriti Irani during a press conference at the BJP party office. Photo: PTI

Press Trust of India New Delhi
Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Thursday rejected the charges made against him by Union minister Smriti Irani, claiming that it was an attempt to divert public attention from key issues like the CBSE paper leak and data leak.
Admitting that he had purchased land from his own money which was not in dispute, he said the transaction was listed in his and his company's income tax filings.
Irani on Thursday demanded an explanation from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi over Sibal's alleged land dealing with a businessman who was investigated by the CBI in 2013 for alleged bribery.
At a hurriedly convened press conference, Sibal said he was saddened that the minister was making such allegations instead of talking about the grave issue of the CBSE paper leak and data leak.
The former law minister also threatened to file a defamation suit against news website, which Irani had cited for her allegations against him, but refused to do so against her.
"Yes, I brought the the company. Does anyone have objections? I gave the money from my income, which is tax paid and the income tax returns are filed up to date," he told reporters.
Asked about the charges about his dealings with the businessman who was facing a money laundering investigation, he said, "You ask him all those questions" and ended the conference.
"It is sad that a minister in this government is interested in raising non-issues, rather than the real issues of the people," Sibal said.
"I'm a little saddened that to divert the attention of the people, to the complete lack of application of mind and the utter carelessness of this ministry and government, she instead came out and asked Rahul Gandhi to explain," he said.
Sibal said Irani made the allegations "without even reading the meaning of money launderer".
He also said that to his knowledge, there were no proceedings of money laundering against anybody and if there were, the person concerned should be asked about them instead.
Sibal also asked Irani whether she would ask the prime minister "why he is so close to Mehul bhai, who is a money launderer".
"Does she ask the prime minister why Nirav Modi is photographed with him in Davos, who is also allegedly a money launderer," he asked.
Irani on Thursday had also cited a South African media report, which alleged that the businessman, Piyush Goyal, was involved in money laundering.
Citing, she alleged that Sibal and his wife bought a company called Grand Castilo from Goyal in 2017 while the UPA government was investigating the businessman for bribery.
"People might say that Mr Sibal has a right to buy and engage with the so-called alleged money launderer, the question I pose is - is it politically acceptable to Sri Rahul Gandhi," Irani told reporters here.

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First Published: Mar 29 2018 | 9:21 PM IST

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