If what Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said about Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a special session of the Delhi Assembly comes out true, it will be a clear case of pot calling the kettle black for Modi. If a passing accusation is made in an august gathering like in the Assembly, it would immediately be up for ridicule. But the evidence provided by Kejriwal is difficult to ignore. The allegation has been substantiated by Income Tax statements that indeed reveal Rs 25 crore was paid to the then Gujarat Chief Minister (Narendra Modi), according to a November, 2012, email seized from executive president Shubendu Amitabh of Aditya Birla group. Common Cause, an NGO, has also filed a petition in Supreme Court demanding a detailed investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the coal-block allocation to Hindalco Industries of the Aditya Birla group that was unearthed by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raid in 2013. The NGO has sought a direction to CBI-Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT)-Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to produce before the apex court the entire evidence recovered in raids conducted on both Sahara and Aditya Birla companies. The bombshell dropped by the Delhi Chief Minister will no doubt be a thorn in the flesh of the Prime Minister as it is likely to come up some day during the winter session of Parliament. The Opposition, already peeved by the untold hardships caused to weaker sections after the demonetisation decision came into force on the midnight of November 8, may well demand an explanation from Modi. The Prime Minister has to wriggle out of Kejriwal’s charge of “protecting corporate friends by accepting bribes for clearing their projects” when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. The growing queues outside banks across the country throw ample light on the mismanagement of the demonetisation drive, which has only offered adequate arsenal to the rival parties to put the Central government on the defensive in Parliament.
Compared with scandals worth lakhs of crores such as coal allocation, Telgi stamp paper, Commonwealth Games and 2G during the Manmohan Singh government, this Rs 25-crore scam may look a minuscule controversy. Yet, as Kejriwal rightly put it, this is the first time an allegation points its finger directly at the nation’s Prime Minister. Almost bragging on the note-ban benefits, the tone of Modi’s speeches delivered across Uttar Pradesh in run-up to Assembly elections, bordered on the lofty side. But they would all smack of double standards if the Prime Minister fails to come clean on the stink raised by the Aam Aadmi Party leader.