PM should explain why PNB scam happened: Rahul Gandhi

Swapnil Deshpande
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Congress chief Rahul Gandhi meets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

"I had a warm and cordial meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister in Delhi this evening. We had a fruitful discussion on a range of issues concerning our two countries. I look forward to continuing the dialogue and building a lasting friendship with him,"Gandhi tweeted after the meeting.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi today launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the PNB scam allegedly involving Nirav Modi, asking him to explain why it has happened and what steps he is taking to ensure that the banking system is safe in India. He accused the central government of constantly refusing to accept its responsibility and alleged that the prime minister was "destroying" the economy through his actions, starting from demonetisation.

"The prime minister will have to come out and tell what happened (on Nirav Modi) and why, and how did it happen? And what is he going to do about it," he told reporters after the first meeting of the Congress steering committee that will function in place of the working committee (CWC), the highest decision making body of the party.

The Congress chief rejected the BJP charge that he had personal ties with Nirav Modi and had attended his promotional event, saying "they are trying to divert the issue. There is nothing like that."

"The fact of the matter is that the Prime Minister has, through his actions, destroyed the financial system of this country. He has demonetised the economy.

"He has taken money from people's pockets and put it into the banking sector and now his friends and cronies are stealing it from the banking sector and the prime minister is not saying anything," he alleged.

Gandhi said instead of spending an hour and a half explaining to children how to take exams, "he should explain to the people of India what is going to be done to this Nirav Modi and what is he going to do to make sure that the banking system is safe". Gandhi said it all started with the prime minister junking currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 on November 8, 2016, when "he took out all the money from people's pockets and put it into the banking system". "The strange thing is that Nirav Modi takes away Rs 22,000 crore and the prime minister has time to teach students on how to take exams but not to tell the country who is responsible for the Rs 22,000 crore of public money that the jeweller has snatched away," Gandhi said.

Gandhi also said the defence minister and social justice minister were briefing on the issue, but "the FM and the PM, who are responsible, have not spoken a word about it".

He said he agreed with former finance minister P Chidambaram who said during the meeting that a scam of this level which the prime minister "is ignoring", "cannot have been committed without high-level protection".

"It must have been known to the people in government beforehand. Otherwise, it is not possible because the amount is so huge. "So the question is Narendra Modi made people deposit their money in the banking system, in a way he took the responsibility of protecting public money. And now it has been a failure of that," he said.

Asked about BJP's charge that the scam happened during the UPA rule in 2011, he said, "No it didn't. The bulk of it started in May, 2015."

Gandhi said the first complaint was made in May 2015 and the bulk of 90 per cent of transactions were done during this government.