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PNB scam: Congress accuses Modi govt of letting fraudsters escape, BJP blames it all on Congress

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PNB scam: Congress accuses Modi govt of letting fraudsters escape, BJP blames it all on Congress

The Congress on Thursday attacked Narendra Modi government for letting businessmen and corporates flee the country with public money.

The case in point was that of billionaire diamond jeweller Nirav Modi who left the country on Jan 1 this year. On Jan 31, the CBI registered an offence against Punjab National Bank (PNB) officials as well as Nirav Modi and his relatives, who are partners of two diamond firms in Mumbai, for allegedly committing a Rs 280 crore fraud in 2017.

The scam turned out to be much bigger as earlier this week, the PNB flagged fraudulent transactions worth over Rs 11,500 crore in its Mumbai branch in the case.

Addressing a press conference, on Thursday, Feb 15, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala wondered if  Nirav Modi, whom he referred to as ‘Chhota Modi’, was tipped off by someone within the government about the PNB complaint like former IPL czar Lalit Modi and business tycoon Vijay Mallya. “Was he tipped off like Lalit Modi and Vijay Mallya to escape by someone within the government? Has it become the norm for letting people run away with public money?” Surjewala asked.

He asked how could Modi dupe the banking system under the nose of the government, which has launched a fight against black money and benami transactions. “How can Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi dupe the entire banking system through forged Letters of Understanding under the nose of Modi govt?” he said.

He also released a picture of the PM and Nirav Modi at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year.

PNB scam: Congress accuses Modi govt of letting fraudsters escape, BJP blames it all on Congress

Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman hit back, blaming it on Congress-led UPA government: “Whatever is coming out is the result of the previous UPA govt, action will be certainly taken on it.”

Surjewala’s jibe of ‘Chhota Modi’ also cut them to the quick. Another union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad took strong exception to it.

“What is this word ‘Chhota Modi’ ? BJP takes strong offence to the kind of language being used by describing someone like that. It is derogatory, scandalous and demeaning,” fumed Prasad.

Earlier in the day, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said “being seen with the Prime Minister helped the businessman flee the country.”

Taking a dig at the PM, Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Guide to Looting India by Nirav MODI. 1. Hug PM Modi 2. Be seen with him in DAVOS Use that clout to: A. Steal 12,000Cr B. Slip out of the country like Mallya, while the Govt looks the other way. From1MODI2another”

Releasing a group photograph where Nirav Modi was seen along with other top Indian businessmen and the Prime Minister, the Congress claimed that a gentleman named Hariprasad, had complained to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as early as July 26, 2016, about a bank fraud involving Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Chokshi — who owns Gitanjali jems and jewellery — but “the government authorities were sleeping on their jobs.”

The Congress said that the PMO acknowledged the complaint but the PMO, the Finance Minister and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) did not act firmly on the complaint to stop the designer-businessman from fleeing India.

The Congress said Hariprasad had mentioned that there were as many as 42 FIRS against companies owned by Nirav Modi and Chokshi.

“Why did the Prime Minister allow such a fellow to be part of the Indian business delegation?” asked Surjewala.

Though the scam, mainly involving the PNB, is about Rs 11,000 crore, the Congress said it would be around Rs 30,000 crore if banking experts are to be believed, as more banks were exposed to companies owned by Chokshi and Nirav Modi.

“How did the entire banking sector’s Risk Management Systems and Fraud Detection Ability come to naught?” asked Surjewala.

Posing five questions to the government, the Congress said the Prime Minister should speak on the “biggest banking loot of the past 70 years” and explain how the jewellery designer was allowed to flee despite the PNB writing to the CBI on January 29 this year to issue a look-out circular against Nirav Modi.

“Who is protecting Nirav Modi/Mehul Chokshi? Who is responsible for the biggest bank loot scam” asked Mr. Surjewala.

When pointed out that several BJP leaders claimed that the scam was going on since 2011 when the United Progressive Alliance was in power, the Congress chief spokesperson said, “The complaint of PNB to CBI mentions that Letters of Understanding were between February 9 and 14, 2017. By making counter allegations, there is a suspicion that the BJP is trying to hide something and protect them.”

Meanwhile, the Enforcement Directorate on Thursday conducted raids on premises linked to billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi in three States – four locations in Mumbai, including Modi’s office and showroom in Kala Ghodathree; in Surat; and two in Delhi – in connection with the fraudulent transactions in the PNB, said media reports quoting ED sources.

The premises of a senior bank official was also searched.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is crorepati, PMO says in its report

The Prime Minister’s Office declared that PM Narendra Modi has a deposit (Bank FDR and MOD) of Rs 2,10,33,226 in the State Bank of India of Gandhinagar, Gujrat. He also has a Bank Balance of Rs 46,555 in the same branch of the SBI.

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PM Modi

Publishing a report titled ‘Assets and Liabilities of the Union Council of Minister as of March 03, 2022’, the Prime Minister’s Office declared that PM Narendra Modi has a deposit (Bank FDR and MOD) of Rs 2,10,33,226 in the State Bank of India of Gandhinagar, Gujrat. He also has a Bank Balance of Rs 46,555 in the same branch of the SBI.  The total movable property was increased by 26.13 lakh during 2021-22.

According to the report, PM Modi’s movable assets increased from Rs 1,97,68,885 at the end of March 2021 to Rs 2,23,82,504. However, he has not invested in Bonds, debentures/ shares, and units in companies/Mutual funds and others and the amount.

Reports said that the Prime Minister invested 1,89,305 in life insurance policies and 9,05,105 in National Savings Certificates (Post).  It writes ‘NIL’ in personal loans/advances given t any person or entity, including firm, Company, Trust, etc., and ( other receivables from debtor and the amount) column.

According to the report, PM Modi does not have any immovable property. Immovable property Survey No. 401/A was jointly held with three other joint owners and each having an equal share of 25%, is no more owned by the PM and has been donated.

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Nitish Kumar stakes claim to form new Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar

Earlier in the day, he resigned from his post and announced breaking off the alliance with the BJP.

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Nitish Kumar

Janata Dal United (JDU) leader Nitish Kumar and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Tejashwi Yadav today met Bihar Governor Phagu Chauhan to stake claim to form a new Mahagathbandhan government in Bihar.  

Earlier in the day, he resigned from his post and announced breaking off the alliance with the BJP.

Nitish Kumar today met with his MLAs and MPs before the final decision on the new alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and the Left-front. 

He said that he has resigned from the post. All MPs and MLAs reached a consensus that they should leave the NDA.

Read Also: Bihar BJP accuses Nitish Kumar of betraying Bihar people

Hindustan Awami Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi has extended his support to Nitish Kumar and the Mahagathbandhan. But Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) will continue with the NDA.

LJP chief Chirag Paswan today questioned the credibility of Nitish Kumar. He demanded president rule in Bihar.

Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal accused that Nitish Kumar has betrayed the people of Bihar. He said that they fought 2020 assembly elections together under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the mandate was for the JDU and BJP. BJP won more seats despite that, Nitish Kumar was made the Chief Minister of Bihar.

Union Minister and Senior BJP leader RK Singh has also condemned Nitish Kumar’s resignation as Chief Minister of Bihar. He said that 15 years of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government took the state backwards. Nitish Kumar also said this multiple times. How will he justify going into an alliance with RJD? He said that they were corrupt.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigns

Nitish Kumar decides to break alliance with BJP

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Bihar BJP accuses Nitish Kumar of betraying Bihar people

Sanjay Jaiswal said that they fought 2020 assembly elections together under National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the mandate was for the JDU and BJP. BJP won more seats despite that Nitish Kumar was made the Chief Minister of Bihar.

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Bihar BJP

Bihar BJP chief Sanjay Jaiswal today accused Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar of betraying the people of Bihar. He said that they fought 2020 assembly elections together under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), and the mandate was for the JDU and BJP. BJP won more seats despite that, Nitish Kumar was made the Chief Minister of Bihar.

Union Minister and Senior BJP leader RK Singh has also condemned Nitish Kumar’s resignation as Chief Minister of Bihar. He said that 15 years of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) government took the state backwards. Nitish Kumar also said this multiple times. How will he justify going into an alliance with RJD? He said that they were corrupt.

Read Also: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigns

He accused that all of this was just a politics for power.  There was no morality, and he should be ashamed for that.

Denying the BJP’s involvement in weakening the JDU, BJP National Spokesperson Shahnawaj Hussain said that they strengthened their own party, but they didn’t weaken any other party. They have worked honestly for the business and employment of the people of Bihar.

Accusing the BJP of breaking his party, JDU National President Lalan Singh on Monday said that he will expose them at an appropriate time. However, he didn’t mention the name of the BJP.   

He made it clear that JDU was not a sinking ship, it was a sailing ship. Some people (without naming RCP sing or BJP) were trying to damage it and took steps to mend it.

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