Congress, BJP spar over Modi's 'links' with alleged hawala kingpin

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 28, 2014 18:52 hrs

New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) The Congress Monday attacked Narendra Modi on his alleged links with a "hawala kingpin" whose house and office in Gujarat were searched by the Enforcement Directorate but the BJP dismissed the allegations as showing "bankruptcy of the Congress". A BJP leader posted a photograph of Congress MP Mohammad Azharuddin with the same man but removed it soon.

The Congress attack on the Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate came a day after BJP released a video of Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra's land deals and alleged "corruption under patronage."

Congress party spokesman Randeep Surjewala alleged at a press conference here that the "hawala kingpin" was a "well-known BJP supporter and protege of Shri Narendra Modi".

But BJP sought to strike back within hours of the Congress presser with Amit Shah, a close aide of Modi, re-tweeting a picture of the same alleged hawala trader with cricketer-turned-politician Azharuddin.

However, the retweet was deleted soon after it was posted by Shah.

BJP sources said a party legislator from Gujarat had orginally posted the photograph on Twitter.

Surjewala said the Enforcement Directorate had March 22 raided the house and office of the said "kingpin", reportedly a diamond trader by profession, and claimed to have unearthed a hawala racket worth approximately Rs.700 crore.

"What is the nature of relationship of Narendra Modi with alleged hawala kingpin?" he asked, also demanding to know if pictures of the diamond trader on Modi's and BJP's website holding meetings in the Gujarat chief minister's office "reflect a proximate relationship that needs to be examined and investigated?"

Surjewala also alleged that the hawala racket being run by the "kingpin" had "deep underworld links".

"Does the complete complacency of Narendra Modi and his government to one of the biggest hawala rackets being run in Surat under their nose and eyes point towards their complicity or indifference in upholding the law and checking nefarious elements involved in anti-national activities?" he said.

BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi defended Modi, saying that many people get pictures clicked with public figures.

"Anyone can come and get a picture with me. I cannot ask for an identity card each time. The Congress is making a mountain out of a molehill," she said.

Another BJP leader Prakash Javadekar told IANS that the alleged hawala trader had met Modi publicly.

"He met Modiji as part of a delegation. Such allegations show the bankruptcy of the Congress. They are defending the indefensible and ignoring the corruption in their own backyard," Javadekar said, referring to the party's allegations against Robert Vadra.

Asked why Shah first retweeted then deleted the picture on his Twitter timeline, Javadekar said that he was not aware of it. 'Please ask him (Shah)," he said.

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