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Mainstream, VOL LV No 43 New Delhi October 14, 2017

BJP on a Sticky Wicket

Saturday 14 October 2017, by SC


Jay Shah, the son of the second most important person in the country, BJP President Amit Shah, is in the spotlight at present.

A report in The Wire website has pointed out that the turnover of Temple Enterprise Private Limited, owned by Jay Shah, grew from Rs 50,000 in March 2015 to Rs 80.5 crores in 2015-16; in the same year it got access to an unsecured loan of Rs 50.78 crores from the financial services firm, KIFS.

Incidentally, when the report questioned the sharp rise in the Temple Enterprise’s turnover in 2015-16, Jay Shah’s lawyer said the company was in the business of import and export of agri-commodities like rapeseed DOC, castor DOC meal, desi chana, soyabean, coriander seeds, rice, wheat, maize etc. A turnover of Rs 80 crore in the commodity business “is not abnormally high”, he asserted.

The Wire report further highlighted the fact that a Rs 25 crore loan was taken by Kusum Finserve, another enterprise owned by Jay Shah, from the Kalupur Commercial Cooperative Bank, and ques-tioned as to how the loan was raised against collaterals valued that Rs 7 crores. Shah’s lawyer responded by stating that the “bank did not give the firm a loan but a non-fund based working capital facility in the form of a Letter of Credit upto Rs 25 crores”, an added: “This facility is availed from time to time.”

Against this backdrop, Jay Shah said The Wire report had made “false, derogatory and defamatory imputations against me by creating in the mind of right-thinking people an impression that my business owes its ‘success’ to my father’s political position”. In the wake of The Wire report he declared that he would file a defamation suit worth Rs 100 crores against the author of the report and the editors and owners of the website. This he is learnt to have already filed.

Significantly, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal repeated what Jay Shah had said about the report only adding that it was “absolutely false, baseless, malicious... and hollow”. He went out of his way to defend Jay Shah to the hilt.

Quite naturally, the subject has reached the political domain. And Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi promptly tweeted: “We finally found the only beneficiary of Demonetisation. It’s not the RBI, the poor or the farmers. It’s the Shah-in-Shah of Demo. Jai Amit.”

Congress leader Kapil Sibal was devastatingly sarcastic. He referred to the filings with the Registrar of Company by Temple Enterprise Private Limited and said the company was incorporated in 2004, and showed that in March 2013 and March 2014 it had recorded losses to the tune of Rs 6230 and Rs 1724 respectively.

Thereafter his disclosed:

“But in 2014-15 it started making profits... that means there was some change in May... The real change which is shocking came in 2015-16... when the company recorded a turnover of Rs 80 crore... The company also started getting loans.

“But the company stopped business activities in October 2016. And the reason stated was that the company was incurring losses. The losses were said to be Rs 1.4 crore. So first it was incurring losses, then the turnover became Rs 80 crore and then again it started incurring losses and the company stopped business... This is indeed strange.”

CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said the allegations being serious, “they need to be inquired into, investigated for corruption in high places”. In his opinion, “very clearly, the son (of Amit Shah) has misused this government in order to accumulate riches in a very clandestine fashion”.

This is the basic point.

Wasn’t it the PM who had boasted in one of his recent visits abroad that there was not even a single charge of corruption against his government in all these three years he was in power.

Now the mask is off. And this episode has become an issue in the Gujarat elections due shortly. Rahul Gandhi is exploiting this development as well as the hoax of Gujarat’s much-publicised model of development, the growing Patidar agitation for reservation and the increasing upper-caste attacks on the Dalits in the State to not just embarrass but also corner the BJP and Narendra Modi. And he is drawing a warm response at his meetings in Gujarat establishing thereby that the ruling party is on a sticky wicket in the State. Hence, the anti-Rahul campaign by Amit Shah and Smriti Irani in the Congress leader’s constituency Amethi in UP (which is actually senseless at present except as a retaliatory gesture on their part).

Slowly but steadily the tide is turning against the BJP for sure.

October 12 S.C.

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