The Congress on Tuesday reiterated its demand for the resignation of Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and a judicial inquiry into alleged links between his family and debt-ridden companies.
Addressing a press conference, the party’s spokesperson Pawan Khera accused the Modi government of presenting a “fake edifice” of transparency and accountability.
The main opposition party at the Centre asked why Goyal has not disclosed his business interests in connection with the Shirdi Industries Limited.
“What is the linkage of Piyush Goyal and family to Rakesh Aggarwal, Mukesh Bansal, Manish Shah and Prashant Shenoy?” asked Khera.
“Modi talks about transparency and accountability, yet there is a clear case of conflict of interest against the most important minister in his cabinet,” he alleged.
The Congress alleged that including Shirdi, there are 11 companies whose directorship and ownership shuttles around four companies.
According to the main opposition party at the Centre, Intercon Advisors Private Limited, a company owned by Seema Goyal, wife of Piyush Goyal, ended up with earnings of Rs. 30 crore in last 10 years with a paid-up capital of just Rs 1 lakh.
“What is the source of this income? In the years 2007-08, 2008-09, 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17, Piyush Goyal and family did not even disclose the complete source of earnings of Intercon Advisors Private Limited,” Khera alleged.
Listing out various companies with “exposures” ranging from Rs 285 crore to Rs 458 crore, Khera said that the loans and charges of the companies apprehension is that these “loans/charges may not meet the same fate as in case of Shirdi Industries Limited”.
“What is even more interesting is that Shirdi Industries Limited, Asis Plywood Limited, Asis India Infrastructure Limited and Asis Industries Limited have a common email,” he alleged.
“Why is it that whenever Goyal or his wife or their family resigned as directors of the 11 companies, they have been replaced by the same set of people across the 11 companies? What is the exact nature of this intertwined relationship of Piyush Goyal?” asked Khera.
“Modi was giving a lecture on Swachhata today but it appears that his friends have turned Swachhta into another direction – wiped off the banks themselves,” said Khera.
The Congress had previously accused Goyal of “impropriety and conflict of interest” due to his alleged links with private firm Shirdi Industries.
Addressing a press conference on 5 April, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Veerappa Moily and Pawan Khera had alleged that Goyal was chairman and whole-time director of Shirdi Industries from 25 April 2008 to 1 July 2010 during which the company took a loan of Rs 258.62 crore from a consortium of banks headed by Union Bank of India.
Goyal later resigned from the company’s board and the company was subsequently declared sick due to its inability to repay loans.
“However, after the Modi dispensation assumed power at the Centre, 65 per cent of the outstanding loan amount of Rs 651.87 crore was shockingly waived by the consortium of banks without any objections,” Azad said.
Moily claimed that Asis Industries, a sister concern of Shirdi Industries, granted an unsecured loan of Rs 1.59 crore in 2015-16 to Intercon Advisors, a company owned by Goyal’s wife Seema Goyal.
Incidentally, Goyal was also director of the company from 15 September 2005 till 22 July 2013.
“Is it not a clear case of conflict of interest and impropriety on the part of the Union minister? Why did Shirdi Industries through its sister concern Asis Industries extend an unsecured loan of Rs 1.59 crore to the minister’s wife Seema Goyal’s company? Why did Piyush Goyal not declare this loan in his public filing on PMO website?” Azad asked.
In response, Goyal said he has no conflict of interest in Shirdi Industries. Responding to the allegations levelled by Congress, a statement on behalf of Goyal said the judicial proceedings of national company law tribunal in fact clearly highlight the transparent process adopted for turning around the company Shirdi Industries.
“The malicious statement by Congress about Goyal factually misleads and makes incorrect conclusions and is full of factual inaccuracies, mixes up of dates and alludes to events with no relevance to Goyal’s brief association with Shirdi Industries,” a statement said.
The statement said that Goyal was “neither an MP nor director of State Bank of India (SBI) at the time of enhancement” so there was no question of him influencing any loan enhancement.
(With inputs from agencies.)