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Rs 114-bn PNB fraud: Congress, BJP lock horns over Nirav Modi link

Archis Mohan/New Delhi 16 Feb 18 | 05:54 AM

Congress using words like ‘Chotta Modi’ is not acceptable. BJP takes strong offence to the launguage used. It is derogatory: Ravi Shankar Prasad. Photo: PTI

The Narendra Modi government and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday said a “full inquiry" would be conducted in the Nirav Modi case and none would be spared. The BJP said it found the Congress party describing Nirav Modi as “chhota Modi", or small Modi, as offensive.

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Senior BJP leader and Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rebutted the Congress’s allegations on the issue. He said raids had been conducted at nine premises of the accused businessman in three cities and property worth Rs 13 billion confiscated.

Guide to Looting India by Nirav MODI 1. Hug PM Modi 2. Be seen with him in DAVOS Use that clout to: A. Steal 12,000Cr B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the Govt looks the other way. #From1MODI2another: Rahul Gandhi

The minister also threatened the Congress with releasing its leadership’s “cozy photographs" with Mehul Choksi, managing director of Gitanjali Gems and alleged business partner of Nirav Modi. BJP leaders and the party’s social media team insisted that the “scam" had started during the Congress-led UPA’s rule, in 2011.

Earlier in the day, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala released a letter sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) by Hari Prasad SV, a Bengaluru-based citizen, on July 29, 2016. In that letter, Hari Prasad had alleged that a major financial scam, similar to those involving Vijay Mallya of the Kingfisher group, Subrata Roy of the Sahara group, and the Satyam group, had been brewing. He had alleged that the scam worth billions of rupees was being perpetrated by Choksi.

“Why did the PM not take any action to protect the interests of the banking sector despite a written complaint having been received and acknowledged by his office? Why were all the authorities, including the finance ministry and its financial intelligence units, sleeping on their job?" Surjewala said. 

“How did Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi dupe the entire banking system through forged letters of understanding under the nose of the Modi government? Who is responsible for the biggest ‘bank loot scam’?" the Congress spokesperson demanded to know. 

Congress President Rahul Gandhi likened Nirav Modi’s escape to that of Mallya’s. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Communist Party of India (Marxist) chief Sitaram Yechury and other opposition leaders also demanded to know how Nirav Modi was allowed to leave India, and questioned his presence in a group photograph with the PM during the latter’s visit to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in January.

Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad disputed that Nirav Modi was part of the PM’s delegation to the WEF. “Nirav Modi was not part of the PM Modi’s delegation at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He was part of the CII delegation. There was no meeting between Nirav Modi and the PM Modi in Davos," Prasad said. He said necessary instructions had been issued to revoke Nirav Modi’s passport.

“I wish to make it very clear, and this I can also convey on the behalf of the government, that no one shall be spared in the banking system who has sought to derail the ordinary banking system to help Nirav Modi. This is regardless of the stature and status of the official concerned," Prasad said, addressing a press conference. He warned the Congress to not indulge in politics on the issue.

“Many Congress leaders are close to Nirav Modi," Prasad said. He pointed to a tweet by Shehzad Poonawalla, a rebel Congress functionary, to allege that Rahul Gandhi had attended Nirav Modi’s event at New Delhi’s Imperial Hotel.

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