PALANPUR: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi targeted Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani today over the SEBI slapping fine on his firm for alleged manipulative share trade, and asked the prime minister to speak out on the issue.
Speaking during his poll campaign tour of Gujarat, he claimed that the share market regulator has termed Rupani "beimaan" (dishonest) and imposed fine on him.
Gandhi asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak out against his "dishonest" chief minister.
"Gujarat is more corrupt than the entire country. Surat businessmen told me that policemen come to their units every two minutes (allegedly to demand bribe)," he said.
The 47-year-old Congress leader was addressing a public meeting here in Banaskantha district on the second day of his campaign tour of North Gujarat.
"Jay Shah, son of (BJP chief) Amit Shah, increased the turnover of his company from Rs 50,000 to Rs 80 crore in a few months after the BJP came to power in 2014. The people of Gujarat know this cannot be done without corruption," he said.
"Some days ago, the SEBI said your chief minister is beimaan (dishonest) and they fined him.
"Modiji used to say 'na khaoonga, na khane doonga' (I will neither take graft nor allow corruption). Please open your mouth on this subject now. But he is silent. Now his slogan is 'na bolta hu, na bolne dunga' (I will not speak myself and won't allow others to do so')," Gandhi said.
"The people of the country want to listen what you (Modi) have to say on Amit Shah's son's company, on Vijay Rupani. The people of Gujarat will believe that you are not 'chowkidar' (watchman) but 'bhagidar' (collaborator) if you don't say anything on the issue," he said.
The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has reportedly fined 22 entities, including Rupani HUF (Hindu Undivided Family), for alleged manipulative trading in the shares of a company, Saran Chemicals Ltd, during the January- June 2011 period.
However, Rupani had said the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT) has set aside the fine of Rs 6.91 crore imposed on 22 entities, including his firm.
The fine amounts varied for the entities and it was reportedly Rs 15 lakh in the case of HUF of Rupani, who took over as chief minister in August 2016 and is currently in the thick of the BJP's campaign for the next month's assembly polls.
A report in a news portal had alleged wrongdoings in the company owned by Jay Shah, a charge vehemently rejected by him and his father. Jay Shah has also filed a criminal defamation case against the news portal.
Gandhi reiterated he and the Congress would not rest till Gabbar Singh Tax of five slabs is converted into one slab Goods and Service Tax (GST) with rates capped at 18 per cent.
"The tax (structure) with five different slabs is not GST, but is Gabbar Singh Tax, meant to loot the poor and middle-class people of the country as only they pay taxes. We will not rest till the government changes GST and puts a cap of 18 per cent," he said.
On Twitter, Gandhi asked the government to stop levying GST on the maximum number of items of mass use and "stop giving excuses".
"It is the voice of the country - the government stops giving excuses. It should abolish GST on maximum number of mass use items," he said.
Gandhi also insisted that petrol, diesel and domestic gas cylinders are brought under the ambit of the tax regime.