India’s Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of accepting 400 million rupees (US$5.9 million) from the Sahara conglomerate when he was chief minister of Gujarat and demanded and independent inquiry.
Modi’s BJP immediately dismissed the allegation, accusing Gandhi of being “angry” and “desperate” after his party suffered successive poll defeats recently.
The ruling party said Gandhi’s allegation was just a tactic to divert public attention from the AgustaWestland luxury helicopter scam in which his family and some other leaders are allegedly named.
Gandhi’s disclosure came eight days after he had claimed to have explosive information that could be “earth shattering.”
But there were no tremors on Wednesday as he was only repeating charges against Modi from an ongoing case filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court based on some entries made in diaries seized during tax raids at two corporate houses, Sahara and Birla.
Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Chief Minister and leader of the Aaam Admi Party has also made similar allegations against Modi based on the same documents.
Addressing a rally in Mehsana in Modi’s home state of Gujarat which goes to the polls next year, Gandhi said suspicious cash payments of 120 million rupees (US$1.7 million) were also made by Birla group before Modi’s party won the 2014 general elections.
Gandhi said the 400 million rupee Sahara payment to Modi was made in nine installments between October, 2013 and February, 2014.
“The records are with the IT Department for the last two and a half years yet no action has been taken …. We want an independent inquiry … We want you to come forward and tell the country yourself,” he told Modi.
Gandhi also attacked Modi for “shamelessly foisting demonetization on Indians under the garb of fighting black money.”
Instead of hitting at money launderers, demonetization targets poor and honest citizens, he said.
Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad came to Modi’s defense. The Prime Minister is as “pure” as the Ganga river, he said. “People have stopped taking Rahul Gandhi seriously. His remarks are irrelevant since the Supreme Court has pointed out the lack of evidence in the Bhushan case,” Prasad said.
“Why did he not utter a word when millions of rupees were being looted during Congress rule?” he asked.