The Congress on Friday said that after granting "immunity" to the Sahara Group, the government is trying to brush under the carpet the entire case against the Group in a "conspiratorial manner".The party also demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi come forward and respond to the graft charges against him, and a "neutral, independent and free and fair probe" be conducted that does not fall within the purview of the government.Talking to the media, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala alleged that the whole thing is being done "in a hurry as if the government has something to hide"."Shockingly, the entire case against Sahara Group is now being sought to be closed in a hush hush and conspiratorial manner at startling speed. This further indicates that the Modi government has 'something to hide' and is in an alarming hurry to brush the entire matter under the carpet," said Surjewala."Shocking and scandalous facts in Birla and Sahara papers have now put a question mark on the credibility of the Prime Minister, requiring an independent investigation. "Modiji, who claims to be a crusader against corruption, must face personal accountability and investigation on the alleged charges of receipt of money from the two industrial houses," he added.
Surjwala said: "There has to be a probe that does not fall within the precincts of the government and where the probe can really be termed as neutral, independent and free and fair."The Congress also said that according to the documents seized by the Income Tax Department, cash payments were made nine times to "Modiji" over a period of six months, totalling Rs 40.1 crore."This document, dated November 22, 2014, is duly signed by the Income Tax Department authorities and witnesses," said Surjewala."In the process, the 'Sahara Group' appears to have gained a concession of not paying income tax on the income of Rs 1,910 crore and received complete immunity from penalty and prosecution," he added.Asked about Sheila Dikshit's name featuring in the Sahara diaries, Surjewala said: "She had said why doesn't the Prime Minister have the courage to get an independent probe done when his credibility is at stake.""Get everybody probed. Let the entire thing be investigated," said Surjewala.
The Congress also asked a few questions to the Modi government, including why is the government showing such tearing hurry to close the entire 'Sahara' issue."Why was Sahara Group permitted to claim expenses of 150 to 200 times the original amount filed with the Registrar of Companies? Also, why was Sahara Group permitted to claim concession on undisclosed income in this fashion?" said Surjewala."What is the underlying reason for showing such benevolence to a corporate house, which has been caught with unaccounted cash and papers reflecting non-disclosure of income running into a few thousand crores?"
Surjewala further said: "Sahara Group has been granted complete immunity from penalty and prosecution. Under Section 271 of the Income Tax Act, a penalty of 100 per cent to 300 per cent would have been payable, besides prosecution under Section 276. Why has this immunity been granted to the group?"Would Modi government explain as to why corroborative evidence was not collected to substantiate the payments made? Is it because it reflected the name of none less than PM Narendra Modi himself? Does it not make out a clear cut case for an independent investigation to arrive at the truth?"Is it also not correct that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) had reported suspicious transactions in 4,574 bank accounts of the Sahara Group? Why has the Modi government not investigated and taken action on these important pieces of information regarding 4,574 bank accounts of the group?"