Scotching rumours of an internal rift in the BJP-led government, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as well as party chief Amit Shah Wednesday denied allegations against Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son and rubbished reports of differences between ministers.
“This has reference to reports appearing in a section of the media over the past several weeks, mentioning the Prime Minister, and referring to the conduct of some Union ministers, and alleged misconduct of the home minister’s son. The reports are plain lies, motivated and constitute a malicious attempt at character assassination and tarnishing the image of the government,” the PMO said. “Those indulging in such rumour-mongering are damaging the interest of the nation.”
Media reports had claimed that Rajnath was upset with stories claiming his son, Pankaj, was pulled up by Modi for alleged “misconduct”, and that the home minister held a “ministerial colleague” and “party rival” responsible for spreading rumors against his son.
In a statement to the media, Rajnath said, “In the past 15-20 days, there have been rumours in the air about me and my family. I thought rumours have no basis and these will end in some days.”
“But I am seeing that these rumours are gaining momentum. I want to assure the nation that the day allegations, even prima facie or even small, are proven against me or my family, I will quit politics and public life and sit at home,” he said.
The home minister said he had talked to Modi and Shah about the rumors about him and his family. “I have told this to the PM and Amit Shah. They have expressed surprise over this and termed it as completely baseless,” Singh said.
A detailed statement from Shah followed a few hours later. “As party president, I believe that the conduct of all our ministers is of highest standard, and such propaganda is baseless,” it said. “His political life has been a symbol of simplicity, grace and probity. The allegations against him are baseless, untrue and have been spread with an intention to tarnish the image of the party.”
The BJP chief said that Rajnath’s son is currently a general secretary of the party’s Uttar Pradesh unit and has served the party in different roles in the past 10 years.
Despite the denials and the support by the PMO and Shah, some BJP leaders said that the developments have “exposed” the differences between senior party leaders. “The denials, it seems, have given credibility to the rumours and highlighted them when it did not need to happen,” said a BJP leader.
The BJP spokespersons remained silent on the reported allegations against Rajnath’s son. “The Congress-led government was mute even when charges with evidence were raised. In this case, there were no charges, but rumours only,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
The Congress, meanwhile, asked Rajnath and Modi to explain who has levelled the allegations, and what prompted the PMO to respond with so much “alacrity”. “The Congress…has not levelled allegations against his son. We have not levelled any allegation against him also. So, the country and the Congress would like to know from Rajnath Singh and PM as to what is the allegation against his son which you are denying,” Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said.
(Inputs from Manoj C G and Vijaita Singh)