Is the top BJP leadership convinced about the authenticity of the documents related with corruption charges against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, first made public by editor, Economic and Political Weekly (EPW), Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, and in possession of Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress vice-resident Rahul Gandhi?
If would seem so, if a recent tweet by Rajya Sabha member of Parliament (MP), Subramaniam Swamy, is any indication. Retweeted by as many as 3,200 persons, Swamy’s tweet asks Jaitley to “order an inquiry as to how Buddhu (the term Swamy is known to use to identify Congress vice-president) got Income Tax raid documents”.
Gone virtually unnoticed, the tweet, which has received 4,375 likes, and is dated November 21, the day Gandhi addressed his rally in Mehsana, further wondered how could the documents, “kept” in the Union finance Ministry’s “secret vaults” come out in the open, insisting, “We must know who gave” these documents to “Buddhu”.
Thakurta, who first broke the story in EPW on November 19, is a member of the governing council of Common Cause, the NGO which has petitioned to the Supreme Court against Modi through advocate Prashant Bhushan. He insisted in the EPW article, “Documents seized by the Income Tax Department in private corporations imply pay-offs were made to the PM and leading politicians.”
Thakurta’s EPW article had said, “At least five central agencies or commissions in New Delhi were sitting on a tranche of documents that allegedly indicated that Modi had accepted bribes in excess of Rs 55 crore, or eight million dollars.”
Pointing out that documents relate to the period when Modi was Gujarat chief minister, Thakurta added, “In the documents, there appears to be a repetition of four specific transactions, which took place between October 30, 2013 and November 29, 2013 and have been accounted for under two separate headings”.
Thakurta said, EPW emailed and wrote letters on November 17 to Modi and others who were “recipient” of funds (Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Shiela Dikshit), “seeking their responses to the information contained in the documents which the income tax department seized during a raid it conducted on various premises of the Sahara India Group in the national capital region on November 22, 2014.”
However, it regretted, “At the time of publication, no responses had been received.”
While the Supreme court has set aside the documents saying they do not suggest that there is “prima facie” evidence of wrongdoing, Ashish Khetan, a senior functionary of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Delhi government, in an article in “The Wire” (December 23) regrets, “Unfortunately, the court proceedings until now have not laid out the full breadth of the evidence of possible bribery and corruption in high places contained in the Birla and Sahara papers.”
Says Khetan, “The Income Tax Appraisal Report dated February 27, 2014 issued by the deputy director of Income-Tax (Inv.), Unit-V (3) Delhi in the Birla matter contains hundreds of seized emails, hand written notes, SMSs, blackberry messages and statements that reveal entries of regular payments made to people bearing names strikingly similar to the then union ministers and ministers in state governments.”
“These entries and emails were meant for internal consumption. It is by pure chance that these entries have become public. However, it is in both the Congress and the BJP’s interests that these records are not investigated”, Khetan says.