New Delhi: The Congress on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of loaning Rs 25 lakh to what is said was a “for profit public limited company” in Mumbai and sought a clarification from the prime minister and finance minister on the issue.
The party also sought the resignation of Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde alleging “blatant conflict of interest” in the matter.
Addressing a press conference here, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said the Multimedia Vision Limited (SMVL), a ‘for profit public limited company’, publishes Mumbai Tarun Bharat newspaper from the BJP office at Chembur in Mumbai.
He said that the annual return of SMVL for 2012-13 reflects a loan of Rs 25 lakh from the BJP.
Surjewala said the return also showed a loan of Rs 20 lakh from “Keshav Kunj” and added that the RSS headquarters in Delhi was known by the same name. He said another loan of Rs.20 lakh was from Bhartiya Darshan Vichar Trust.
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The Congress leader said that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in an article written in December last year, had alleged violation of the Income Tax Act in the National Herald case through a loan of Rs 90 crore from donations collected by the Congress.
“Rs 90 crore from amongst the funds collected by the Congress Party are given to the newspaper company. Prima facie, it can be said that there a breach of the provisions of the Income Tax Act in as much as an exempted income is used for a non-exempt purpose,” Jaitley had written.
“Will Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley (now) explain as to whether the extension of loan to ‘for profit’ public limited companies by political parties does not violate the provisions of the Income Tax Act and other laws?
“Is it appropriate for a political party to hire out its political office for commercial purposes?” Surjewala said.
He said the BJP had stated that the loan was not returned by the Mumbai Tarun Bharat as the company was out of business.
The Supreme Court earlier this month refused to put on hold criminal proceedings against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, vice president Rahul Gandhi and others in the National Herald case but expunged all adverse observations, inferences and conclusions by the Delhi high court in the matter.
Surjewala said that Tawde was a SMVL director and had “business association” with Dilip Karambelkar who, he said, was the editor of Mumbai Tarun Bharat.
The Congress leader claimed that Tawde appointed Karambelkar as the head of Maharashtra State Marathi and Encyclopedia Production Board (MSMEPB), a public office.
Surjewala said the government had put up four names for consideration to appoint as president/chairman of MSMEPB and 24 names for appointment as members.
“Karambelkar’s name was not among these 24 names. Despite this, vide instructions of Tawde, Karambelkar was appointed. Shockingly, notings also reflect that they were not approved even by the state chief minister at the time of appointment,” he said.
Surjewala said the code of conduct for ministers required that a minister must sever all connections with the conduct and management of any business in which he was interested before his appointment.
“Vinod Tawde continues as SMVL director as per the latest documents available with the Corporate Affairs Ministry. Not only this, he is also director of four other companies. In the light of blatant conflict of interest, can he continue in his office?” Surjewala said, adding that the prime minister and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis need to answer on the matter.