The plot thickens in the high-stakes poll battle between the BJP and Congress stalwarts in Amritsar. As second-richest candidate in the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, BJP nominee Arun Jaitley was quick to buy a mansion in Amritsar to shed the “outsider” tag. Congress candidate Captain Amarinder Singh shot a complaint to the Election Commission, demanding that the purchase be included in Jaitley’s poll expenses.
Now two days before Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is scheduled to campaign in Amritsar for Jaitley, Amarinder’s team has found a new “plot” against the BJP stalwart.
It claims that Jaitley as member of the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat benefited from Modi’s largesse in the form of a chunk of “high-value” land at Gandhinagar. Scrutinising Jaitley’s asset details more closely than the Election Commission, the Congress has fished out ammunition to attack both Modi and Jaitley.
The Congress claims that it is Jaitley’s style to buy houses to show his local connect, while the intention is to “amass property”.
Questioning Jaitley’s contribution to Gujarat as MP, Amarinder says he did nothing for the state he represented for so long in the upper house of Parliament.
“If he has enough money to buy a mansion worth crores of rupees in Amritsar just to show he is not an outsider, why did he need a discretionary quota allotment for a plot in Gujarat? While he did nothing for the state, he still gained from his association with Gujarat and Modi,” Amarinder said.
The Congress alleges that Jaitley bought the land soon after he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat but never built a house on it.
“He never intended to live in Gujarat and visited it sparingly during elections to manage Modi’s campaigns,” says the party. Jaitley contends there was nothing wrong in the allotment.
“All state governments have an allotment policy. Many, including the Congress MPs, got the plots in Gandhinagar. There was nothing wrong in it, as I paid the market value for the land.
When 15 years ago, no one was buying plots in Gandhinagar, I bought it for a couple of lakhs,” said the BJP candidate.
While the Congress seems to be targeting the Jaitley - Modi connection, the leader of the saffron party in the upper house, who was reelected to the Rajya Sabha for the third time in 2012 from Gujarat, bets high on Modi’s April 25 rally to swing the votes in his favour.
On why does a leader of his stature needs a Modi, he answers by taking a dig at the Congress: “We have to form a government in Delhi and he is my PM. He is not a Prime Minister we need to hide,” he adds.
With Jaitley having strategised Modi’s returning to power in Gujarat and later his scoring a hat-trick, it’s now time for Modi to return the favour.