To counter the heat on Jay Shah, BJP fields defence minister Sitharaman to attack Vadra
Facing the heat over allegations of financial irregularities against party chief Amit Shah’s son, the BJP hit back at the Congress questioning Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s alleged links with fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.
After its efforts to defend Shah’s son, the BJP chose to go on the offensive against the Congress on the basis of recent media reports alleging Vadra’s financial links with Bhandari.
The BJP fielded Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who wondered if Congress President Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi’s silence on the allegations were actually an admission of guilt.
“I am referring to several instances of give and take between absconding arms dealer Bhandari and Vadra, his conversation with him, email exchanges and the assistance that he provided to Vadra,” Sitharaman said.
“I am referring to three specific cases details of which have now come out in public. First it is about Bhandari refurbishing Vadra’s flat in London, second (regarding) around 7.5 lakh of Swiss francs going in to Bhandari’s account and thirdly which was revealed last night is how Bhandari facilitated air tickets for Vadra,” Sitharaman elaborated, referring to a media report.
Citing the media report, she said that emails clearly show that Bhandari's travel agent purchased air tickets for Vadra.
The minister alleged that the email exchanges clearly establish that the tickets were purchased by Bhandari’s travel agent Vishal Bajpai of International Travel Home, who gave it to Bhandari who in turn passed it on to Vadra.
“Bhandari got the ticket booked for Vadra to travel in business class window seat with bassinet facility and extra leg space. The ticket was from Nice to Zurich, the destination travelled is quite interesting,” she said.
“Three concrete things have now come out in the public. Refurbishing of Vadra’s London flat, Swiss francs going into Bhandari’s account and air tickets purchased for him. All these establish Vadra’s links with a fugitive arms dealer,” she alleged and further questioned Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s “silence”.
Sitharaman also took a jibe at Rahul Gandhi over his recent attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on social media.
“The Congress vice president is very active on Twitter and he is probably copying the prime minister, as he comes up with interesting twists each time to bring in a sense of humour. But has he tweeted on the refurbished flat or the money into the accounts or the air tickets?”
“Silence can be construed as accepting what is being said. Is the Congress leadership, by remaining silent, suggesting ‘yes we knew it and looked the other way’?” asked Sitharaman.
The minister also hinted that Vadra may be questioned for his links to Bhandari who is being probed by the CBI.
“The agencies are probing Bhandari, his properties have been confiscated. Vadra may be private citizen but it is our duty to raise question about his links with a fugitive. When the authorities are looking for a man who is absconding, how come this man has email exchanges? All these (questions) need to be answered,” she said.
Claiming she was not aware of how Bhandari managed to escape the country, Sitharaman asserted the Modi government was making efforts to bring back all such fugitives.
BJP’s renewed attack on Vadra comes at a time when the Congress-led Opposition has been demanding a probe into the meteoric rise in the revenues of a company owned by Jay Amithbhai Shah, son of Amit Shah, barely a year after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of the country.