Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the alleged business dealings of BJP chief Amit Shah’s son Jay, asking him if he was a “partner” in the “theft”. He also criticised Union ministers and BJP leaders who defended Jay Shah, saying they should change the name of the government’s flagship scheme for the girl child–“Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”– to “Amit Shah ke bete ko bachao”. “A theft has taken place in front of the eyes of the chowkidar (watchman), but you are silent. The question is are you a watchman or a partner?,” Gandhi said, attacking the PM. The Congress leader was addressing a gathering here in central Gujarat on the second day of his campaign tour of the BJP-ruled state, where the assembly polls are due by the year- end. At his public meetings during the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign, Modi used to say he did not want to become the prime minister but ‘chowkidar’ of people’s wealth. News portal ‘The Wire’ has reported that a firm owned by Jay Shah saw a huge rise in turnover after the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014.
“The company was formed six to seven years ago. Modi ji came (to power in 2014) and launched ‘Start up India’, ‘Make in India’. He then introduced demonetisation and GST. This destroyed small businesses and farmers,” Gandhi told the gathering as he continued his assault on Modi and Shah for the second day running. “From this fire, one company comes up. It was nothing in 2014, but in a few months the company became so big that its worth (turnover) rose from mere Rs 50,000 to Rs 80 crore,” he said. “Who gave loan to it?” Gandhi asked and then himself replied, “It was a Central government department under minister Piyush Goyal ji.”
The company closed down in 2016, the 47-year-old Congress leader said. He also wanted to know why has the prime minister not spoken on the issue so far. Jay Shah has filed a criminal defamation suit against the web portal over the report in a court in Ahmedabad. The Congress has demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter and ouster of Amit Shah as the BJP chief.
The BJP has rejected the charges against Jay Shah, who has termed the report as “false, derogatory and defamatory”. Gandhi also criticised the state government over the issue of high debt. “The debt of Gujarat has reached Rs 2 lakh crore. Despite taking so much debt for development works, there has been no improvement in the condition of farmers and the poor,” Gandhi said. He targeted the BJP government on the issues of demonetisation, job creation, GST and the “failed” Gujarat model of development.