Sheila denies payoff, Congress seeks Sahara diary probe to nail Modi (Third Lead)
New Delhi, Dec 26 (IANS) Notwithstanding its Uttar Pradesh chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit’s name featuring in the list, the Congress on Monday demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi come clean on the Sahara diaries bribery issue.
Besides the Congress, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Janata Dal (United) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) also demanded an impartial probe into the matter.
Among others, Modi’s name allegedly featured in the diaries as a receiver of kickbacks from the Sahara Group while he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat for a decade.
While Dikshit has denied she had knowledge about any such diary, the Congress asserted that her denial does not dilute the corruption charges against Modi levelled by party’s Vice President Rahul Gandhi, and called for scrutinising all the names in the list, including of its own party members.
Substantiating Gandhi’s allegations against Modi, the Congress had posted on Twitter the entries in Sahara diaries listing payments to several politicians that included Dikshit, former Delhi Chief Minister.
Rejecting the allegations, Dikshit said she “does not recall anything” about the diary and asserted she has “nothing to do” with any such diary.
According to the list, Rs 1 crore in cash was given to Dikshit on September 23, 2013, in Delhi. She was the Delhi Chief Minister until December 2013.
But the Congress is insisting on the need for Modi to come clean.
“We are fully aware that several political parties and leaders, primarily from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Modi, have been named in the documents,” Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha told IANS.
“Whether any Congress leader is named or not is not material. What is material is that the Prime Minister’s name is there,” he said.
“Modi is accused at the moment based on those documents and he should suo motu call for an investigation,” he said.
Asked if the party wants the matter to be probed even at the cost of Dikshit, Jha said: “All the political parties, all the leaders featuring in the documents should be scrutinised, starting with the Prime Minister.”
“We need to establish whether there was corruption or not. Since Modi is the senior most political executive in the country, he needs to subject himself to a thorough and neutral probe,” said Jha, questioning the government’s silence on the issue.
“If he (Modi) is clean, then why is he scared? He should go after the political parties named in the list,” added Jha.
Later addressing the media, Congress leader and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh said: “There are many names in the list, including that of Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. All the names should be investigated.”
“If there is a name, there should be an inquiry. Some names may turn out to be wrong, some names may turn out to be right. Why is the government shying away from an impartial, independent inquiry,” he asked.
While the BJP ridiculed Gandhi following Dikshit’s denial, Congress leader P.C. Chacko said the existence of other names does not dilute the charges against Modi.
“Sheila Dikshit has said that she has no idea about the diaries, she hasn’t said anything about Rahul Gandhi’s allegations against Modi,” said Chacko.
“This in any way does not dilute the charges against Modi, especially when there are sufficient evidences to substantiate those charges. That is why, we are demanding an impartial probe,” he added.
Ridiculing the Congress, BJP leader Rita Bahuguna said the entire issue is aimed at diverting the public attention from the AgustaWestland scam.
“The Supreme Court has already said that there is no substantive evidence to sustain the charges, then where is the need for a probe,” said Bahuguna, referring to Swaraj Abhiyan leader Prashant Bhushan approaching the apex court for a probe in the matter.
“Does the Congress think it to be bigger than the Supreme Court? This is nothing but a ploy to divert the attention from their scams,” said Bahuguna about her former party.
BJP National Secretary Siddharth Nath Singh also slammed the allegations, saying the move is akin to “whipping a dead horse”.
JD(U) leader K.C. Tyagi as well as Majeed Memon of the NCP advocated for probing all the names in the list.