New Delhi: Amid a bitter war of words with the Congress, the ruling BJP on Thursday claimed that the allegations made by its leader Rahul Gandhi against Prime Minister Narendra Modi were utterly 'baseless' and based on 'unauthentic' documents that were termed fictitious by the Supreme Court recently.
The reactions from the BJP came hours after Congress vice president alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi received crores in kickbacks as Chief Minister of Gujarat, months before he led the BJP to victory in the 2014 national elections.
The BJP also called the Gandhi scion a "bluffmaster" and said he was insulting the Supreme Court, which has not found merit in the allegations.
Speaking at a public rally in Gujarat, which will vote for a new government in 2017, Gandhi reeled off a set of figures to allege that Income Tax raids had revealed that the "Sahara group paid off Narendra Modiji nine times in six months" starting 2013. He also said that computer records from a Birla Group official during raids referred to bribes to "Gujarat CM".
"The records are with the IT Department for the last two and a half years yet no action has been taken,"Gandhi said, also demanding, "We want an independent inquiry... We want you to come forward and tell the country yourself."
The Congress vice president again accused PM Modi of not allowing him to speak in Parliament during the winter session that ended last week. Mr Gandhi had threatened to cause an "earthquake" by exposing what he called the "personal corruption of PM Modi," amid a row over the government's ban on 500 and 1000 rupee notes aimed at fighting corruption and black money.
Yet when Gandhi finally went public with the details it turned out that they were known, and were part of a case now before the Supreme Court that was filed by activist and lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
The documents are part of a PIL filed by lawyer Prashant Bhushan alleging pay-offs by corporate houses to politicians, including Modi during his tenure as Gujarat CM. The court has said the documents were not credible enough for a probe to be ordered.
A bench of Justices JS Khehar and Arum Mishra had on November 25 asked Bhushan to furnish other "credible" evidences to substantiate the allegations against the Prime Minister.
"The Supreme Court said that these were unsubstantiated allegations and that there would be no probe. The highest court of the country has spoken, so why does Rahul seem to think that there's any basis to his allegations?" asked BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said Gandhi's allegations reflected the Congress leader's frustration and were an attempt to divert attention from investigation in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal, in which, he alleged, the names of Congress leaders and Mr Gandhi's family had come up. "The allegations levelled against the Prime Minister are baseless, false, shameful and mala fide," the minister said.
Gandhi's allegations were seized by the Trinamool Congress party of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, one of the sharpest critics of PM Modi. "We demand a CBI inquiry, all sorts of investigations, so that the truth comes out," said the party's Derek O'Brien.
Arvind Kejriwal claimed credit for raising the allegations a month before Mr Gandhi. "We welcome Congress's stance against PM's role in Sahara-Birla case, late as it may be," he said.