Sultanpur MP Varun Gandhi on Saturday came out with a two-page response to the allegation about him leaking classified defence information to arms manufacturers, saying there is “not one grain of truth or shred of evidence” against him.
In a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office last month, a US-based lawyer, C Edmonds Allen, claimed that controversial arms dealer Abhishek Verma “blackmailed” Gandhi into sharing sensitive information of the defence consultative committee on crucial military deals.
In response, the BJP MP wrote a detailed, seven-point letter addressed to “fellow countrymen”, written in English, claiming that parliamentary records would show that he never attended any meeting of the defence consultative committee and very few of the standing committee.
“Clearly, I was neither actively seeking out or passing on any information. Had there been any hidden agenda or motivation as alleged in the letter, it would have been reflected in my attendance,” Gandhi said.
However, Gandhi, in his letter, did not respond to the allegations that he was honey-trapped.
As a first time opposition MP, he claimed he could not, and did not, have any access to any sensitive defence information. “So the question of being allegedly coerced into revealing anything does not arise,” Gandhi said.
Citing the lawyer’s claim of furnishing these details to the CBI and ED, he said, “Had these top agencies even (had) the least suspicion or proof of any involvement whatsoever on my part in all these years, it would surely have been reported by now,” he insisted.
The BJP leader claimed he and his family were deeply traumatised by these “lies” and he was taking legal recourse against those who have sought to tarnish his reputation and public standing. “In public life, one learns to take criticism and detractor in one’s stride. However all criticism must be based on some fact. In this instance there is not one grain of truth or one shred of evidence,” he said in the open letter. “Here, I simply wanted to share the truth without delay so that such mischief is nipped in the bud.”
The BJP leader insisted that the US-based lawyer, whom he says he never met, was naming public figures like him to attract greater public attention for his grievances, real or imagined, against his former associate Verma. “I have needlessly been sought to be embroiled into a controversy in which I have no part,” he said.
My letter to the people of India. pic.twitter.com/K3Nn48b79A— Varun Gandhi (@varungandhi80) October 22, 2016
In his seven-point counter to the allegations, Gandhi dismissed the charges as malicious rumours. He reiterated that he first made acquaintance with Verma when he was a college student in England. “He was introduced as the son of late Smt Veena and Shri Shrikant Verma, both Members of Parliament from a well respected family. We met socially over a short period of time. It has been many years since we last met. At no point did we ever discuss work, neither his nor mine,” Gandhi said.
According to media reports, he said, Allen and Verma had some business dealings that went sour. “It would seem that a disgruntled Allen is now seeking maximum publicity for his charges against his erstwhile associate,” Gandhi said.
The BJP leader maintained that the allegations against Verma by Allen have long been the subject of a detailed investigation by both the CBI and the ED, and there are ongoing proceedings regarding the same, including chargesheets that have been filed.
“It is ludicrous to suggest that I was ever blackmailed, as I had done nothing wrong. It is even more bizarre to claim that I leaked top secret defence information from the defence parliamentary committee when every parliamentarian is well aware that no sensitive defence information is shared with such a parliamentary panel,” he said.