Keep to retain its Gujarati vote base in the country’s financial capital, the Congress has appointed Manish Shah, an accused in the Harshad Mehta stock scam, as the chairman of its Gujarati cell in Mumbai.
Shah faces charges of disposing of Mehta’s stocks after the scam broke out in 1992. In fact, it was his questioning by the CBI that had led to Mehta’s arrest.
Shah confirmed Friday that a case filed against him in the matter was yet to be disposed. “The matter is to be heard on May 6,” he said.
On Friday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who his known for his clean image, shared dais with him.
In light of his appointment on the Congress post, Shah had convened an election meeting for Congress’s Lok Sabha candidate for the Mumbai South Central seat Eknath Gaikwad in Matunga.
Besides Chavan, Gaikwad and Mumbai Congress chief Janardan Chandurkar remained present for the well attended event, where they sought the Gujarati community’s support.
Chavan later said he was not aware of the case against Shah and was ignorant of his alleged involvement in the Harshad Mehta case.
Interestingly, in his speech, Chavan said the Congress had adopted a consistent stand of asking those whose names cropped up in corruption cases to step down from party and ministerial assignments.
About 35 lakh voters in Mumbai hail from the community. To strike a chord with the business community, Chavan said “he wanted to abolish local body tax (LBT)”. After LBT was introduced to replace octroi in the state, the trader community, dominated by Gujaratis, has been opposing it. “LBT is only a temporary measure. We are keen to introduce a uniform Goods and Services Tax (GST) across the country, but the BJP and Narendra Modi have been opposing it.”
He said he did not exercise the option of introducing a surcharge of Value Added Tax as an alternative as Mayors of all urban local bodies in the state had argued that such a move would impact their autonomy. “If the opposition to GST continues, I assure you that my government would find another suitable alternative,” he said.