File Photo
File Photo

New Delhi: The BJP on Friday hit back at the Congress, saying the $1.8-billion fraud in the Punjab National Bank (PNB) is another scam of the UPA which came into the open due to the “alertness” of the NDA government. “It’s the BJP government’s alertness that brought this scam to light. It originated during UPA. This is another of UPA scams. The alertness and the system we put in place have brought this fraud to light,” Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar told a press conference at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) headquarters here.

He said that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi took extra-ordinary steps to cleanse the whole banking system which was destroyed by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. “We inherited NPAs from them who gave bad loans,” he said. Javadekar also sought to know from the Congress about links between Gitanjali Gems and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

“Rahul Gandhi attended an exhibition of Gitanjali Gems in Delhi on September 13, 2013 and a day after, on September 14, Allahabad Bank took up the matter and cleared a loan of Rs 1,550 crore on September 17 after holding another meeting,” he said. Gitanjali Gems is a luxury jewellery brand promoted by main accused in PNB fraud case Nirav Modi’s maternal uncle and business partner Mehul Choksi.

Javadekar said that in 2013, despite a note of dissent given by Dinesh Dubey, a whistleblower Independent Director of Allahabad Bank, the loan to Gitanjali Gems was cleared. According to Javadekar, Dubey then complained about it to the Reserve Bank of India and the then Finance Secretary, but no action was taken. “Instead, the Finance Secretary asked Dubey to resign on health grounds. We want to know, who pressurised the Finance Secretary to pressurise Dubey,” he asked.

Rejecting the word “scam” to describe the whole issue, he said it was a bank fraud and not a government scam. “It has nothing to do with government. It can’t be compared with 2G, CWG and coal scams which were all government scams. There was another (Congress) party scam related to National Herald. Congress President Rahul Gandhi is out on bail in that case,” he said.

The Minister said that the NDA was taking action into the PNB case. “Raids are being conducted and properties are being seized. All the government agencies are working and no one is stopping them.” On Thursday, Enforcement Directorate (ED) teams carried out simultaneous raids on Nirav Modi’s offices, showrooms and diamond workshops in Mumbai, Surat (Gujarat) and New Delhi.

Earlier, the Congress continued its belligerent attack on the Prime Minister and claimed that the PNB fraud of over Rs 11,000 crore was India’s biggest “bank loot scam” and had got bigger to touch Rs 21,306 crore. The party asked why the government was silent on the issue and how did it and the agencies permit billionaire diamond merchant Nirav Modi, his uncle Mehul Choksi and others to leave India.

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