New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari Friday came under sharp criticism from the Congress and the Left parties over allegations of wrongdoing in his businesses, and even his parent organisation, the RSS, distanced itself from him.
While Gadkari himself reached the national capital from Nagpur, after being indisposed Thursday, to hold talks with his party`s senior leaders, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said "there must be some truth" in the allegations against Gadkari.
"You cannot hide the facts. There must be some substance in the charges against him (Gadkari)," Shinde told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
"If media is reporting that he (Gadkari) has done something wrong, then there must be some truth in it," he added.
Soon, Shinde`s Congress party too joined the verbal attack on the BJP president, saying it was sad that the BJP`s senior leaders like LK Advani were giving Gadkari a clean chit even while he was facing serious charges of corruption.
"The BJP chief is facing serious corruption charges... there are benami (fictitious) companies and drivers and other support staff have been made directors in his group," Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi told reporters.
"It is sad that senior leaders who have ambitions of becoming the prime minister are giving him a clean chit," Alvi said without naming Advani.
Alvi also defended Congress chief Sonia Gandhi`s son-in-law Robert Vadra, who faces charges of corruption in land deals levelled by India Against Corruption (IAC), saying while Vadra had nothing to do with the Congress, Gadkari headed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Meanwhile, Rastriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) general secretary Bhayyaji Joshi, in a statement, said: "We are deeply saddened by the efforts to drag RSS` name into these allegations and cast aspersions on an organisation of Sangh`s stature."
He also said the Sangh also believes that any individual or organisation indulging in any illegal activity "must be subjected to impartial probe" and that "all those found guilty be punished".
Noting that the allegations have been levelled by the media only and an authorised agency is yet to look into these, the RSS leader said: "That being the situation, it is unfortunate that the discourse on these allegations has turned more and more political."
Contending that the fight against corruption should be waged at a non-political and non-partisan level, Joshi said: "In the last few days, the media has been making allegations about certain irregularities in the corporate affairs of some political leaders. These allegations have caused a lot of consternation in the general public."
In Shimla for campaigning for the assembly elections, Communist Party of India-Marxist leader and former MP Subhashini Ali said the BJP chief should resign on moral grounds.
However, Ali said her party would not demand resignation of Gadkari.
"It is a matter of investigation and the party would not jump into any conclusion that he is corrupt, but it wants that the BJP leader listen to his inner voice and act accordingly," she said.
India Against Corruption (IAC) member Arvind Kejriwal last week levelled allegations related to land deals in Maharashtra against the BJP chief.
The latest allegations against Gadkari are about improper business dealings as chairman of the Purti Group.
The BJP has said that any competent authority could probe the charges and, in turn, has challenged Congress leaders to invite a probe into allegations of corruption levelled against them.
Senior party leaders Advani and Sushma Swaraj have backed Gadkari`s stand in asking for a probe but the Congress said that it was not enough.
The income tax department and the company affairs ministry have begun separate inquiries into Gadkari`s firm and its financial dealings with 26 investor companies.