Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday launched a sharp attack on Amit Shah, citing an old murder case in which the BJP chief was discharged five years ago. He also levelled corruption allegations against Mr Shah's son, Jay Shah. The allegations drew a strong response from the BJP chief, who cited the court's judgment that the case against him was "politically motivated" and questioned Mr Gandhi's knowledge on legal matters.
Speaking at an election rally in Jabalpur, Mr Gandhi said, "Murder accused BJP President Amit Shah....waah! kya shaan hai (Wow, what majesty)... Have you heard Jay Shah's name? He is a magician, he made Rs 50,000 into Rs 80 crore in 3 months."
Mr Shah was named in a case involving the alleged fake encounter of a gangster, Sohrabuddin Sheikh, which took place in 2005. But in 2014, a court had ruled that there was not enough evidence against him to merit a trial. Last year, the Bombay High Court dismissed a petition against the CBI's decision to not challenge the trial court's order discharging Mr Shah.
Asked about Mr Gandhi's remarks, the BJP chief told reporters: "A fake case was registered against me, in which the court has delivered its judgment. The gist of the judgment is it was a politically motivated case and there is no evidence in this case. I don't want to comment much on Rahul Gandhi's legal knowledge".
Earlier too, the Congress had used the case to target Mr Shah. The BJP said it was an attempt at "character assassination".
Two years ago, there were allegations that Mr Shah's son, Jay Shah, an entrepreneur, enjoyed a big upswing in his business after the BJP came to power in 2014.
Jay Shah sued news website The Wire for Rs 100 crore for reporting that his firm's revenues escalated by 16,000 times after the BJP came to power. The report also questioned allegedly unsecured loans given to Jay Shah's firms, including from a state-run firm that reports to the Power Ministry.
The matter had fuelled multiple Congress attacks against the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On several occasions, Rahul Gandhi had accused the Prime Minister of keeping silent on the issue.
Responding to the allegations, Amit Shah, in an interview to news channel Aaj Tak, had said, "If you have documents to prove your allegations, bring them to court".
Emphasising that none of his son's companies "did even one rupee worth of business" with the government or "received kickbacks like in the case of Bofors", Mr Shah said it was not a case of corruption.
"Many allegations of corruption were made against the Congress. Did it ever file a civil suit or defamation suit? No. Why they lacked such courage? Today Jay has filed a defamation as well as civil suit and is demanding a probe himself," he had said.