Hyderabad: A day after senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh accused Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) vice-presidential candidate Venkaiah Naidu and the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) of corruption, the two parties hit back at him, demanding that he take back his words for the ‘false statements’.
Calling Ramesh’s words “cheap", Telangana State IT minister K.T. Rama Rao on Tuesday demanded an apology for him, and said that the Congress leader should mind his words before making any statements. Ramesh had alleged that orders for cars worth a few hundred crores were placed from two companies owned by Rao and Naidu’s son in contravention of rules in 2014.
In response, the IT minister said that 476 Tata Sumos, 300 Toyota Innovas and other cars including the Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and Swift Dzire models had been purchased by the Telangana government (in 2014) at rates fixed by the Director General of Supply and Disposal. “In fact, the prices had been fixed by the earlier UPA government itself," Rao pointed out at a press conference.
Demanding that Ramesh tender an apology for his “false allegations", Rao also said the Telangana government had not made any tax exemption particularly for the Swarna Bharti Trust, which is owned by Naidu’s daughter. “Other non-profitable trusts have also been given such exemptions. In fact, even the previous Congress government in the united Andhra Pradesh did the same," he stated, and provided a list of organisations which had been exempted from paying charges by the previous government.
“If you have any common sense, respond to this. Withdraw your statements, and apologise, or we will take action," warned Rao. He added that the Telangana government has been working sincerely and that Ramesh should have thought carefully before making any such statements.
Earlier in the day, Telangana unit’s BJP president K. Laxman also censured Ramesh and mocked the Congress for “talking about corruption". He added that Telugu people from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were hurt by the Congress leader’s past statements as well.
Reading out statements believed to have been made by when Ramesh was a Union minister during the United Progressive Alliance’s last tenure, Laxman claimed that the former had said that north India was more tolerant than the south. “He had even said that India will ‘get the Nobel prize for filth and our cities are the dirtiest in the world’," the BJP leader said at a press conference.
Laxman said that Naidu had nothing to do with his son’s business and his daughter’s trust, and that the vice-presidential candidate was being dragged into controversy for no reason. “The Congress has been reduced to a little more than 40 seats and they are making such statements. The party has become bankrupt (morally)," he added.