NEW DELHI :The Congress today again demanded the removal of Union minister Piyush Goyal, alleging that financial deals of a company owned by him were a "murky saga of gratification, gross impropriety and conflict of interest", charges dismissed as "baseless and malicious" by the BJP.
Congress leader Pawan Khera claimed that four months after holding the portfolio of New and Renewable Energy, Goyal sold his entire holding in Flashnet Info Solutions (India) Limited, owned by him and his wife, at nearly 1000 per cent premium to a company of Piramal Group which has interests in the renewable energy sector.
He cited company filings of Piramal Estates Private Limited to make the claims.
Piramal Estates Private Limited refuted the charges made by the Congress.
Khera alleged that Goyal did not disclose this in his assets made public on the PMO website soon after becoming a minister and this was a "clear case of conflict of interest".
It’s no secret that CA Piyush Goyal, the BJP Treasurer, has pried open the doors of every major corporate house for PM Modi.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 28, 2018
How then will the PM act against this Minister, caught red handed, misusing his power for 48 Cr. of personal gain?#GoyalMustResign
Congress President Rahul Gandhi took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue.
"It's no secret that CA Piyush Goyal, the BJP Treasurer, has pried open the doors of every major corporate house for PM Modi. How then will the PM act against this Minister, caught red handed, misusing his power for 48 Cr. of personal gain?" he tweeted with the hashtag "GoyalMustResign".
Piramal Estates Private Limited said that it had purchased Flashnet Info Solutions Private Limited ('Flashnet') in July 2014.
"The purchase consideration paid was the fair value of the underlying investments (movable and immovable assets) and the same was paid in July, 2014 itself.
This was based on an independent chartered accountant valuation.
Piramal Group has a long track record of acquiring businesses that complement, scale up or grow our existing business offerings and also constantly evaluates any new opportunities to grow in new space," the company said in a statement.
"The allegation that this transaction was done for undue benefit to the Piramal Group, is totally baseless and devoid of any merit," it said.
Khera during a press briefing said this was a "murky saga of gratification, gross impropriety and conflict of interest involving one of the senior most Cabinet ministers of the Modi government.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi gives sermons of 'na khaunga, na khane doonga'. Will the Prime Minister answer as to why are former BJP's treasurer and his favourite Cabinet minister as also Karnataka in-charge Piyush Goyal and his wife intertwined in a murky web of financial dealings? Will he answer that to the people of India?" he asked.
Reacting to the allegations, the BJP in a statement said, "In the last month, the Congress party made Piyush Goyal a target by hurling malicious allegations against his bona fide business dealings to insinuate wrongdoings and irregularity. The modus operandi of the attack has been to gain cheap political mileage by indulging in a baseless campaign against him with no sound facts to back them but with the only intention of creating false controversies."
It also pointed out that the facts exposed the Congress for blatant misrepresentations using falsehoods and malicious propaganda against the minister who was carrying out his professional work through his companies, which were also holding his investments, prior to his becoming minister in May 2014.
"He stopped all professional/ business activities the day he became a minister, resigned from all directorships and started the process of selling all his investments," it said.
The Congress leader alleged that though the net worth of 'Flashnet Info Solutions (India) Limited' (even 6 months after the sale, according to statutory filings pertaining to the financial year ending March 2015) is only Rs.10.9 crore, the company filings of 'Piramal Estates Private Limited' reflect that a whopping Rs.
48 crore was provided to Goyal Family owned shares in 'Flashnet Info Solutions (India) Limited, which translates into a astronomical price of Rs.9,586 per share.
The BJP, however, said that the "sale of Flashnet shares took place in July 2014 before the declaration of assets and liabilities was submitted on July 25, 2014 and not on September 29, 2014 as falsely alleged by the Congress".
The BJP said that Goyal was being targetted to divert attention from the series of scandals of its leaders for which they have no answers.
"Congress has nothing to attack the Narendra Modi government and its leaders and is resorting to manufacturing controversies using malicious falsehoods which are completely baseless," it said.