NEW DELHI: A war of words is on between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress after billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi, allegedly involved in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank scam, fled the country. Agitated over the manner in which the Congress is attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Central government, the BJP said it was derogatory and demeaning. "What is this word 'Chhota Modi'? BJP takes strong offence to the kind of language being used by describing someone like that. It is derogatory, scandalous and demeaning," Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
Prasad also claimed that contrary to the Congress claims, the PM did not meet Nirav Modi at Davos. "Nirav Modi did not meet PM Modi at Davos. Nirav Modi had arrived in Davos on his own and was present at CII group photo event," Prasad said.
Hitting out at the Congress, he said that the party should end playing politics over photographs. "Many good and cosy photographs of many of the Congress leaders with Mehul Choksi is available with us, but we don't want to stoop to that level," he added.
Nirav Modi was booked by the CBI for cheating after the Punjab National Bank (PNB) sent a complaint to it alleging that the jewellery firm owner, his brother Nishal, wife Ami and Mehul Choksi entered into a criminal conspiracy with the officials of the bank and cheated it, causing a "wrongful loss". State-owned PNB on Wednesday said it has detected Rs 11,400 crore scam.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also blamed the UPA government for the massive fraud and said action will be taken against those responsible. "Whatever is coming out is the result of the previous UPA government. This happened in UPA's time and had been kept suppressed. It is their gift. In fact, we have brought it out. There will be action definitely," Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.
The Congress had alleged that a whistleblower had alerted the government in 2016 about the banking fraud by Nirav Modi but the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley ignored the tip. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said whistleblower Hari Prasad had written to the Prime Minister's Office as early as July 2016, alerting the government about the "biggest bank loot scam in 70 years" in independent India.
"What does the Prime Minister do? Nothing. What does the Finance Ministry do? Nothing. What does the Corporate Affairs Ministry do? Nothing. What does the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Finance Ministry do? Nothing," Surjewala had said.
"You are in power, a fraud is happening under your nose. What were you doing and how did they let the accused escape? Face the truth and answer questions," he added.
He had said "chhota Modi" was part of a delegation travelling with Prime Minister Modi despite "the complaint against him".