The controversy surrounding BJP president Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's firm, Temple Enterprise, over its mercurial growth since the BJP came to power in Centre in 2014, has led to a war of words between the Opposition and the government. The Opposition led by the Congress has accused the ruling party of double standard and demanded a probe into the allegations that Jay Shah benefited after the party came to power.
The BJP has shot down the charges saying that loans were obtained transparently and repaid in full with interest. Several Central Ministers were deployed to defend the junior Shah. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the BJP, said the allegations should be supported by evidence for investigation.
Jay Shah has sued The Wire, the news website that broke the story, for Rs 100 crore for defamation for reporting that his firm's revenues escalated by 16,000 times after the BJP came to power. The website report had questioned the allegedly unsecured loans given to Jay Shah's firms, including loans from a state-run firm that reports to the Power Ministry.
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to former Union Minister and Congress MP, Kodikunnil Suresh to know his party's strategy on the controversy. Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi has taken on the BJP on the issue. Mr. Suresh said that Jay Shah episode exposed the double standard of the Prime Minister, the BJP president and the party on corruption. According to him, BJP leaders are involved in corruption and yet they keep chanting anti-corruption mantra.
IC: BJP president Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's company has seen a huge growth after the BJP came to power in Centre. Jay Shah has filed a defamation case against the news portal which reported the matter. Your views.
Kodikunnil Suresh: There is a general belief that Amit Shah's son has got a favour from the government machinery. The company has got facilities from the government as a result of which the turnover increased many times in a couple of years. It is certainly an eye-opener. The Central government has misused its powers to favour him.
IC: What is your demand now?
The government should probe the case. I do not know whether an independent and fair probe will be possible under this government. The fact is that several senior BJP leaders like Yashwant Sinha have slammed the government on the issue. Many BJP leaders are not convinced by the explanation given by Amit Shah and his son.
IC: You have expressed apprehension over a free and fair probe into the matter. Why?
BJP president Amit Shah is defending the business growth of his son. My question is simple. If any other person or company is found doing well, the income tax department, the Enforcement Department, the CBI or other agencies will start questioning him/her. In Jay Shah's case, all these agencies are keeping quiet because the director of the company is son of powerful Amit Shah. None of the agencies has questioned Amit Shah's son so far. These agencies are hunting for Kirti Chidambaram and others. The CBI, income tax and other enforcement agencies are hunting for sons and their companies of Opposition leaders.
IC: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly said that his government would root out corruption. What is your objection if the government takes action against the corrupt.
The Prime Minister maintains silence when it comes to the involvement of BJP leaders or their family members in corrupt practices. But when it comes to alleged involvement of Opposition leaders or their wards, an inquiry is ordered quickly. The Modi government is biased against non-BJP parties.
IC: The charge against the Congress party is that it wants to blow the controversy surrounding Jay Shah out of proportion, as a counter to BJP's attack on Robert Vadra over land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan. Your reaction.
That's not true. Their allegations against Robert Vadra are political in nature.
IC: Many Central ministers have come out to defend Jay Shah and given him a clean chit. Even the Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appeared for Jay Shah in the criminal defamation case against The Wire.
How can Central Ministers defend a private entrepreneur and a private company? After all, they are part of the government and hence have certain constitutional responsibilities. They are expected to follow the rules of the government. It was not constitutionally right on their part to defend an individual or private company. They have violated the constitutional provisions.
IC: Gujarat is all set to go for elections next month. Will Congress raise Jay Shah issue in the elections?
We will raise several key issues like failure of the BJP government in Gujarat and the Central government. We will certainly raise Jay Shah issue during the election campaign in the State.
IC: What will be your strategy in the Winter Session of Parliament?
It is a major issue and we will certainly raise it in the Winter Session. We will decide our strategy when the session starts. Jay Shah episode has completely exposed the double standard of the BJP on corruption issue.
(Published on 16th October 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 42)