Rahul Gandhi takes fresh jibe at PM Modi, accuses him of being silent on Jay Shah row

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New Delhi: The turnover of a company owned by Jay Amitbhai Shah, son of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Shah, increased 16,000 times over in the year following the election of Narendra Modi as prime minister and the elevation of his father to the post of party president, filings with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) show.
Company balance sheets and annual reports obtained from the RoC reveal that in the financial years ending March 2013 and 2014, Shah’s Temple Enterprise Private Ltd. engaged in negligible activity and recorded losses of Rs 6,230 and Rs 1,724 respectively. In 2014-15, it showed a profit of Rs 18,728 on revenues of only Rs 50,000 before jumping to a turnover of Rs 80.5 crore in 2015-16.
The astonishing surge in Temple Enterprise’s revenues came at a time when the firm received an unsecured loan of Rs 15.78 crore from a financial services firm owned by Rajesh Khandwala, the samdhi (in-law) of Parimal Nathwani, a Rajya Sabha MP and top executive of Reliance Industries.
One year later, in October 2016, however, Jay Shah’s company suddenly stopped its business activities altogether, declaring, in its director’s report, that Temple’s net worth had “fully eroded” because of the loss it posted that year of Rs 1.4 crore and its losses over earlier years.
On October 8, ‘The Wire’ had published a report stating that the turnover of a company owned by Jay Shah increased exponentially the year after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014. Following the report, Jay Shah filed a Rs 100-crore criminal defamation suit against the online news portal.
Days after an Ahmedabad court passed an order barring ‘The Wire’ from publishing any further report on BJP president Amit Shah’s son Jay’s business turnover, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday quipped that PM Narendra Modi would neither speak about “Shah-zada” nor allow others to do so.
In a cryptic Hindi tweet, Gandhi, on October 20, said: “Mitron (friends), will not speak about ‘Shah-zada’, nor will let anyone speak.” Rahul was referring to the interim injunction granted by the Additional Senior Civil Judge of Ahmedabad (rural) court.
The Congress and Rahul Gandhi have relentlessly attacked the ruling BJP regime and repeatedly questioned PM Modi’s silence on the issue. The Congress demanded the removal of Amit Shah as BJP president and constitution of a two-member judicial commission of inquiry comprising judges of the Supreme Court to probe Jay’s business dealings.
Meanwhile, BJP chief Amit Shah, in defense of his son, said there was no question of corruption in his son Jay Amit Shah’s company and it had not received government land or contract worth even a rupee.
The BJP president also hit out at the Congress, saying it did not file a defamation suit despite facing several corruption charges while his son Jay Shah has moved the court over the allegations against him.
“The company has not taken commission like in the case of Bofors,” Shah said, referring to Bofors gun pay-off scandal that had rocked the then Congress government in the 1990s.
The BJP has rejected the charges against its chief’s son, who has termed the report “false, derogatory and defamatory.
How Big Media covered it
The Wire’s story on the “dramatic increase” in some of Jay Shah’s businesses pretty much broke the Internet, or at least Twitter.
The Times of India was titled: “Amit Shah’s son slaps Rs 100 crore defamation suit on a website”, with two other inside stories on Politics & Policy page. The report gave coverage to press conferences of both Congress leader Kapil Sibal and Union Minister of Railways and Coal Piyush Goyal, but in good old legacy media way decided not to name The Wire.
The Indian Express, on the other hand, ran a two-column front-page story titled: “Report on Shah’s son: Cong wants a probe, he says will sue for defamation”.
The Hindustan Times put the story “Amit Shah’s son to sue news website for Rs 100 crore” at the bottom of the front page and continued it with the headline “Web report on Shah’s son triggers political slugfest”. While HT included Goyal’s defence of Shah as well as Sibal’s allegations, the story gave prominence to Goyal’s statements as compared to what Sibal had to say.
The Hindu’s reports focussed on BJP’s response along with quotes from Sibal and CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury.
Major Hindi dailies also focussed on BJP defending Shah, rather than the questions raised by The Wire’s story. Dainik Jagran’s front-page headline focussed on Rs 100 crore defamation suit.
Meanwhile, on TV news, India’s leading English channels decided that The Wire story was not worth any play at all. Ditto for Republic TV — The Wire’s story didn’t make news on Arnab Goswami’s ‘independent’ media venture, except for Goyal’s presser. This was also true for state-controlled broadcaster Doordarshan News.
NDTV ran the story as one of its top 9 o’clock headlines with the disclaimer that it could not independently verify the report. Newslaundry could not find any coverage of The Wire’s story on CNN-News18.
Aaj Tak presented a medley of Sibal vs Goyal with Honey Preet continuing to make it to prime time. India TV had a 30-minute segment on Karva Chauth but again did not deem The Wire’s report to be important enough for prime-time discussion. The channel also gave coverage to Goyal’s presser, ignoring Sibal’s. So, while there may not have been an out-an-out blackout, the story did receive muted coverage on TV news and was presented in a way that gave more weight to the BJP’s response to the story rather than the story itself.

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