New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday stepped up his attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s continuing silence on the alleged multi-crore PNB fraud involving billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi.
Rahul also targeted finance minister Arun Jaitley, who has been conspicuous by his absence while other BJP ministers stepped in to counter the Congress party’s allegations of government collusion in India’s biggest “bank loot scam”.
“PM Modi tells kids how to pass exams for 2 hrs, but won’t speak for 2 mins on the 22,000Cr banking scam. Mr Jaitley is in hiding. Stop behaving as if you’re guilty! Speak up (sic),” tweeted Rahul, alluding to the Prime Minister’s voluble address to students at the ‘Pariksha Pe Charcha’ programme on February 16.
The Gandhi scion’s salvo comes amid an acrimonious face-off between the ruling BJP and the Congress over the Nirav Modi scam case. The Congress alleges that a scam of such magnitude could not have taken place without “top-level protection”, while the BJP contends that the “original sin” occured during the UPA’s tenure.
Damning revelations came thick and fast, as the Congress brandished images of prime accused Nirav Modi accompanying PM Modi at Davos, days after he fled the country. The BJP hit back by producing documents which pointed to dealings between the jewellery designer’s firm and a company of which senior Congress leader A M Singhvi’s wife is a director. Further, the saffron party accused Rahul Gandhi of having personal ties with Nirav Modi after being seen at a promotional event hosted by him in September 2013.
The Congress chief rejected the charge and said instead of trying to divert attention from tha main issue, the PM “should explain to the people of India what is going to be done to this Nirav Modi and what is he going to do to make sure that the banking system is safe.”
Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman has assured that the government was doing everything poosible to bring the accused to book.
“They have fled but this doesn’t mean we will not catch him. But they are facing the heat. Investigation is happening,” she said at a press briefing on Saturday.
Central probe agencies CBI and ED continued their crackdown in the Rs 11,300-crore bank fraud case involving Nirav Modi and his family and associates, registering a fresh case against his uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi. The CBI also arrested two former PNB officials and an “authorised signatory” of the companies tied to Nirav Modi.
The agency has alleged that the new FIR pertains to 143 LOUs worth over Rs 4,886 crore fraudulently issued to three companies of Choksi — Gitanjali Gems, Nakshatra and Gili — during the period 2017-18, officials said.
The agency had earlier registered a separate case involving Rs 280-crore fraud, which has now been expanded to cover LoUs worth Rs 6,498 crore issued to accused companies of Nirav Modi and Choksi.