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BJP Reaction to The Wire Story on Jay Amit Shah Shows Loss of Moral High Ground, Says Yashwant Sinha

The BJP leader also described the defamation cases Jay Amit Shah is filing against The Wire as an attempt to “suppress the voice of the media.”

Yashwant Sinha. Credit: PTI

Yashwant Sinha. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: Former finance minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said that the BJP has “lost the moral high ground” due to the way it has reacted to the recent story in The Wire on the business dealings of  party president Amit Shah’s son, Jay Amitbhai Shah.

In an interview to NDTV on Wednesday, Sinha said the BJP ought not to have fielded senior ministers to defend Jay Shah, or have farmed out a top government lawyer, Tushar Mehta, to represent someone who is essentially a private businessman. “Looking at all this, therefore, perhaps the high moral ground that we had occupied all these months and years appears to have been lost somehow.”

He was answering questions about the controversy triggered by The Wire‘s story on Amit Shah’s son.

“I don’t want to comment on the merits of the story which has appeared in The Wire because that is a matter of enquiry and investigation, ” said Sinha, “but I would certainly like to say that the manner in which a Central minister jumped into the fray in defence of Jay Shah is not called for. He is a central minister. He is not a chartered accountant of the firm of Jay Shah. Similarly, another minister of the UP government jumped to his defence. These are avoidable and should not have happened.”

Sinha also questioned the way in which clearance was given for the additional solicitor general to represent Jay Shah.

Asked if the controversy had dented the image of the party and the prime minister, Sinha said, “I will say that an episode takes place, your reaction to that determines whether you are still occupying the high moral ground or you have quit that high moral ground. From the way we have responded – the party and government –  it appears we have lost the high moral ground.”

Sinha also described the defamation cases Jay Amit Shah is filing against The Wire with the backing of the government as an attempt to “suppress the voice of the media.”

“Media is a very important, integral part of democracy, that is why it is regarded as the fourth estate, the fourth pillar of democracy. To try and suppress the voice of the media either directly or though any other means, including for instance these defamation cases running up to to Rs 100 crore was also avoidable,” he said.

Following The Wire‘s investigative report on the dramatic increase in revenue of a company owned by Jay Shah in the year following the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jay Shah has filed a criminal defamation suit in an Ahmedabad court. He also announced his intention of suing The Wire for Rs 100 crore.

The Wire report also drew attention to the loans given to Jay Shah’s firms, including from a state-run firm that reports to the Ministry of New and Non-Renewable Energy (MNRE).

“The way the loan was given to Jay Shah by the [MNRE] and the way Piyush Goyal [who was in charge of that ministry at the time] defended him, it gives the impression that there’s something wrong,” NDTV quoted Sinha as saying.

“The government should order an inquiry because too many government departments are involved,” Sinha said, backing opposition demands for a probe into the BJP president’s son’s business affairs.

Last month, Sinha, in an article for the Indian Express on September 27, tore into the Modi government’s handling of the economy, warning of more turbulence and the possibility of a hard landing.

In a subsequent interview to The Wire, Sinha had also attacked the Modi government’s failure to address the Kashmir issue, and said that India has already lost the people of the Valley emotionally.

  • Kunju Mohideen

    BJP is not looking good now.

  • Shridhar

    What kind of proof you are asking when the website only quotes from ROC papers… In fact everyone of us asking Govt to investigate and come out with the facts…

  • Anjan Basu

    Mr Yashwant Sinha is right: the BJP has forfeited its much-vaunted claim to moral superiority. To those of us, though, who have for many years known the BJP and what it stands for, that supposed moral high ground was never more than a chimera, a hoax, a fraud on our collective sensibility, and the claim always sounded hollow. Mr Sinha appears to have been put wise to the fraud now. Well, better late than never!

  • Anjan Basu

    Please go to the Opindia article ‘rebutting’ The Wire’s report, and you will have ready access, at the foot of that article, to the numbers that Rohini Singh has quoted in her article. You will then find out that EVERY bit of information she has provided is correct. Since Opindia seems to subscribe to your own political orientation, I am sure your doubts will have been assuaged then. As for the legal action you are talking about, hasn’t Jay Amit Shah opted for just that? The Wire has done what it needed to do, and now it is up to Jay Amit Shah and all his many well-wishers/ defenders/ godfathers to take up the cudgels on his behalf. The data The Wire article has drawn upon are ALL in the public domain and are incontrovertible. Only ‘legal’ action of a certain unsavoury kind can hope to controvert that set of data.