The Congress on Wednesday said that NDA’s Vice-Presidential candidate M Venkaiah Naidu’s response to its allegations against him on issues of probity had “left more questions” and demanded he and his BJP answer them. Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah had “chosen to be mum” on the allegations despite the “repeated rhetoric of zero tolerance for corruption and wrongdoing”
“Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. People of India demand answers,” he said. The Congress had first made the four charges on Monday but Naidu, had rejected the allegations as “entirely false and motivated” and termed them clear evidence of the opposition party’s “sense of hopelessness” and “political bankruptcy”.
He had also made a point rebuttal. Making a fresh allegation on Wednesday, Surjewala said that ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’, in which Naidu’s daughter is a managing trustee, has been issued a notice under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. Noting Venkaiah Naidu and Telangana government had accepted that the trust was given exemption from paying various developmental charges amounting to Rs.2.46 crore to Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, Surjewala said Naidu has sought to justify the “unilateral waiver” as 16 more trusts were given such exemption.
“Why similar exemption was not granted to hundreds of other NGOs? What was the criteria for granting exemption in absence of any policy. Is it fair to grant exemption in payment of public charges to a trust that is facing FCRA proceedings?” he asked.
Surjewala said that Telangana government had accepted that 350 Toyota vehicles were purchased directly from Harsha Toyota, owned by Naidu’s son – reportedly at Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal rates – but the next lot of 350 vehicles were purchased through a tender, won by Radha Krishna Motors. “Why were both lots of vehicles not purchased through tender? Was the conditionality of tender violated in the purchase of first lot of vehicles? What is the price at which the two lots of vehicles were purchased? Was the price of vehicles purchased from Harsha Toyota higher?”
The Congress leader said Naidu had stated that he was then BJP chief and consequently chairman of Kushabhau Thakre Memorial Trust which was allocated 20 acres in Bhopal valued at “over Rs 500 crore” but the the Supreme Court had quashed the allocation and passed “stinging strictures.”
He said if Naidu was not responsible for allocation of land, Prime Minister Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah “should answer about the strictures”. Surjewala said Naidu has “not denied that he had secured 4.95 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh reserved for the poor and the destitute” and asked that if his being forced to return the land as it was illegally allocated to him, absolved him of his culpability. Naidu had said in his statement said the issue of return of land was raised by the local Congressmen as early as 2002 and but courts had dismissed the charges of land-grabbing.