Congress demands probe into minister’s ‘Dubai visit’, Sharma says never been on foreign trip
A day after state Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said that Power Minister Shrikant Sharma had visited Dubai in 2017 and sought to know the purpose of his visit, Sharma, who is in the eye of a raging storm over Rs 2,600 crore EPF ‘scam’, on Wednesday called the claims “baseless”, saying that he has “never been on a foreign trip”.
“The UP Congress chief is levelling baseless allegations in order to garner publicity in the media. His leader goes to foreign countries on vacation. If he has to seek report, then it should be for the trips undertaken by Rahul Gandhi, who despite being an SPG protectee, roams around in foreign countries without security. What does he do?” Sharma said.
“Mr Lallu is transcending all barriers of dignity in public life and dabbling in petty politics. He must keep these things in mind,” the Power Minister said.
However, the UP Congress chief stood firm on his claims and demanded a probe into the minister’s alleged visit to Dubai.
“There should be a probe into Power Minister Shrikant Sharma’s Dubai visit in September-October. Who did he meet there? Investment of power corporation employees’ PF money in DHFL is not only about corruption but also related to the country’s security. Power Minister has to answer why did he go to Dubai and who did he meet?” said Lallu, who has already demanded Power Minister’s resignation.
With the arrest of three persons — former MD of UPPCL A P Mishra, the then secretary of UP State Power Employees Trust Praveen Kumar Gupta and UPPCL’s erstwhile Director (Finance) Sudhanshu Dwivedi – the state Congress chief wondered “how was it possible that low-ranking officials managed to make dubious deals of thousands of crore of rupees while the Power Minister remained unaware of it”.
The alleged controversy pertains to the parking of EPF money of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (UPPCL) staff to the tune of over Rs 2,600 crore in scam-hit DHFL, a private entity.
The state Congress chief also asked why the DHFL representative has not been arrested. “Why Amit Prakash who had done the deal with the UPPCL on behalf of DHFL has not been arrested? Power Minister answer it. You can’t run away from questions,” Lallu tweeted.
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also raised the issue and asked the state BJP government to come clean on the issue. Backing the employees, Priyanka said, “In Uttar Pradesh, employees of every government department are worried whether their hard-earned savings are safe or not. One thing is clear from the DHFL-PF scam that the BJP government has sacrificed the money of its employees in an irresponsible manner. Before that, the employees had questioned the decision of investing pension money in IIFL. The BJP government is afraid of transparency. But the employees want every detail of their money.”
The Congress has asked the government to come out with a White Paper on the exact amount of money invested from the provident fund of employees.
With inputs from PTI