Congress alleges BJP links to Guj firm that defaulted on bank loans, drags 2014 campaign

New Delhi: The Congress Friday alleged a Gujarat-based firm that defaulted on bank loans had close ties with the BJP leadership and it provided luxury campaign buses to their 2014 prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, and demanded he come clean on his "links" with the company. There was no immediate response from the BJP on the charges.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera told a press conference here that Siddhi Vinayak Logistics Limited (SVLL) provided customised video luxury buses and trucks with 3D projection technology to Modi's 2014 Lok Sabha campaign and flaunted its proximity to BJP bigwigs to secure bank loans and delay repayments.

The SVVL also allegedly partnered with a Swedish luxury bus manufacturer, Scania, but the Gujarat firm turned defaulter to a whopping Rs 846 crore loan from Bank of Maharashtra, he alleged.

Khera also alleged that Surat businessman and SVLL owner Roop Chand Baid had ties with a former bank official associated with the National Organisation of Bank Officers, linked with the RSS-affiliate Bharat Mazdoor Sangh. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had also complained against this alleged nexus in 2016 to then finance minister Arun Jaitley, Khera said.

"This makes it very clear - the nexus of persons involved in defrauding Bank of Maharashtra and its depositors are very closely linked not just to the ruling party but to the Prime Minister of India," he alleged.

"We demand that the Prime Minister of India come clean on his links with the company that defrauded Bank of Maharashtra, a company that partnered with Scania and now we all know what Scania was upto in India," Singh told reporters here.

As for Scania, the Congress had Thursday demanded a judicial inquiry into the allegation that the Swedish firm gave a luxury bus to a company linked to union minister Nitin Gadkari, who had denied the charge as "malicious, fabricated and baseless". Singh also alleged on Friday that requests from the bank to repay the debts were met with a response that the company is busy in helping candidate Modi with specialised vehicles for 2014 elections. "This was seen as a method to showcase their strong political connections".

Khera also said that in February 2015, a report said SVLL was Bank of Maharashtra's largest defaulter. "Despite being a defaulter, the fact that the company had friends at the highest echelons of power, meant that neither were the loan accounts tagged as NPA's nor were they classified as wilful defaulters," he alleged.

He further alleged that as a part of its CSR efforts, the company started its "Chalak se Malik" scheme in 2012 and took loans from Bank of Maharashtra, claiming it would reward its truck drivers to make them owners, and was financed by the bank but the instalments were never paid.

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