Sharpening the attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation and graft charges, the Congress on Thursday announced launching a nationwide protest campaign from January. Its also questioned Modis alleged links with a Gujarat businessman being probed for black money, promoting the BJP to threaten legal action.
Announcing the three-phase nationwide agitation beginning January 6, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned Modi over Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s allegation of having taken Rs 65 crore in kickbacks from Sahara and Birla as the Chief Minister of Gujarat as well as businessman Mahesh Shah who declared Rs 13,860 crore black money under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS).
“We are asking a simple question: Did you (Modi) take money or not? If not, then why aren’t you ordering an independent probe into it,” he asked.
“Former Chief Minister of Gujarat Suresh Mehta of BJP had said that Mahesh Shah used to visit Modi when he was the Gujarat CM quite often without any restrictions. Mahesh Shah declared Rs 13,860 crore black money under the Income Declaration Scheme (IDS).
“Why isn’t Modiji telling us the truth behind Rs 13,860 crore? Is he doing any probe into it,” he asked.
Surjewala also said that old currency notes were found in a private car in Maharashtra, which were said to have links with state ministers Pankaja Munde and Subhash Deshmukh.
“Is Modi going to tell the people how cash worth Rs 51.50 lakh was seized from Subhas Deshmukh’s car? Will there be any probe in this?”
He accused the Modi government of having imposed “economic anarchy” through demonetisation in the country,
Congress’ allegations against Modi attracted prompt rebuttal from the Bharatiya Janata Party with senior leader and Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad even threatening legal action.
“We want to clearly state that Mahesh Shah has no relations either with Modi or (BJP President) Amit Shah. If the Congress has proof, let it follow proper channels or stop making such baseless allegations. Otherwise, we will consider taking legal action,” he said.
Prasad dubbed Congress the “biggest patron” of corruption, and said the party was making baseless allegations to deter the government from acting against the corrupt but asserted that the government will not yield to any such pressures,” he said.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also hit out at Congress and ridiculed Gandhi for demanding a white paper on demonetisation.
“Congress and its friends are rattled by the prospect of the government going after those who made illegitimate deposits in banks and bought benami properties. Their allegations are baseless and absurd. They want to dilute the public perception of demonetisation,” he said.
“We are trying to change the entire system and end black money, but they are asking for white paper. They don’t want white money, they want white paper,” he said, adding that the government will not be distracted by these diversionary tactics.
Enumerating the benefits of the note ban, Naidu said demonetisation was an “anti-scam vaccine”.
“Without any credible evidence, the Congress is calling demonetisation a scam. They want to tar the government, they are adopting a spit and run ploy. But demonetisaion is anti scam vaccine, to prevent scams, corruption and black money,” he said.