NEW DELHI: The Congress and the BJP continued to hurl charges at each other over the mega PNB fraud for the third consecutive day on Saturday. Congress chief Rahul Gandhi questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence, saying he would have to explain how diamond merchant Nirav Modi could loot public money worth Rs 22,000 crore and escape.
Rahul linked the PNB fraud to the November 2016 demonetisation decision, saying the move made banks flush with funds, of which Nirav took away Rs 22,000 crore.
“Instead of lecturing students for one-and-a-half hours on how to take exams, the Prime Minister should tell the country how Nirav could take money from the banks and escape,” Rahul said.
“This scam would not have been possible without the connivance of top officials in the government. The BJP must explain the fraud,” he said.
The BJP deployed defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who blamed the previous UPA for starting the fraud and said her party was only trying to clean up.
After Sitharaman linked Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi with Nirav’s company Firestar Diamonds, he hit back, saying she could face a defamation suit for the charge. Singhvi also denied the allegations, saying Nirav’s company had rented a property in Mumbai owned by Adwait Holdings, in which his wife and son were directors in 2017.
“The owner of a property can’t be held responsible if the tenant defaults on a loan,” Singhvi said.
Rahul also rebutted Sitharaman’s allegations that he had links with Nirav.
“That’s nothing… it’s just to divert the issue,” said Rahul. “The government refuses to take responsibility. We haven’t heard the finance minister on the bank fraud. Instead, the defence minister is fielded.”
Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal said the nation’s “chowkidar” had failed to protect the people’s money.