New Delhi: A tweet by Rahul Gandhi targeting Railway Minister Piyush Goyal over his family’s business interests in Shirdi Industries triggered a controversy today with the trust managing the famous Saibaba temple in Shirdi demanding an apology from the Congress president for “insulting” devotees across the world.
The Congress later said that it respects Sai Baba and his devotees, but asked the ‘Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi’ to urge the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the regulatory body for stocks exchanges, to ensure that no company misuses the name of ‘Shirdi’ and its goodwill.
“Friends… ‘The miracles of Shirdi’ have no ‘seema’ (limits)”, Gandhi tweeted, tagging a news report claiming growing investments of Piyush Goyal and his wife Seema.
He also used the hashtag “PiyushGhotalaReturns” along with his tweet.
Objecting to the tweet, Chairman of the Shirdi Trust Suresh Haware said devotees of Sai Baba were hurt by Gandhi’s remarks.
“Rahulji, it is painful to see the name of ‘Shirdi’ being dragged into political slugfest. Sai devotees from within the country and abroad are deeply hurt by this. We condemn this on behalf of all Sai ‘bhakts’. You should apologise to ‘Sai Bhakts’ for this insult,” Haware tweeted in Hindi.
The Congress had yesterday demanded the resignation of Goyal alleging that his family has business interests in companies which are in default.
Hitting back, the BJP had said the Congress was making “false”, “sensational” and “scurrilous” statements to divert attention from the many scams committed by it.
Asked at the AICC briefing here, Congress Communications incharge Randeep Surjewala said today that Rahul Gandhi holds the Shirdi Trust, Sai Baba and also every saint in great reverence.
“Unfortunately, the name of the company affiliated to Shri Piyush Goel is ‘Shirdi Industries Ltd.’ I wish Shirdi Trust will now in hindsight take action and ban such people from using the name ‘Shirdi’ who use such pious name and then consequently malign by swindling away public money,” Surjewala said.
He said the attribution was to Shirdi Industries Ltd and not to the ‘Trust’ or ‘Sai Baba’ in any fashion. “We can’t even imagine that or think of that. So, I think this question should be directed at Piyush Goel and his friends who are actually maligning such pious and holy name by swindling public money”.
“I hope that ‘Shirdi Trust’ will take up this matter both with SEBI as also with the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and the prime minister to consider deleting the name ‘Shirdi’ from every ‘Public Ltd.’ or ‘Private Ltd.’ company which they cannot use and then misuse by swindling money,” he said.
Surjewala also said that “if need be, we are with Shirdi Trust if they lodge a case for misusing Shirdi’s name” in the said case.
He also alleged that there was a ‘conflict of interest’ in the case and the continuation of Goyal as a minister in the Union cabinet has become ‘untenable’.