- Rahul Gandhi claimed "similarities" between Nirav Modi and PM Modi
- Both have looted India and are called Modi: Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter
- Both refuse to answer questions and believe they are above law, he added
Hours after Nirav Modi was spotted in London, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday took to Twitter to list what he claimed were "similarities" between the fugitive businessman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. "The video of fugitive #NiravModi in London shows an uncanny similarity between him & his bhai (brother), PM Modi. Both have looted India and are called Modi. Both refuse to answer any questions. Both believe they are above the law. Both will face justice," Mr Gandhi said in a tweet.
The BJP reacted swiftly. "Profound argument from a man who himself has a stolen surname. BTW, is it not true that in Sept 2013, you visited Nirav Modi's bridal jewellery exhibition in Delhi and the next day Allahabad Bank approved loan to him, despite opposition from the bank's director? No comments?" the ruling party asked.
Nirav Modi, wanted by Indian investigators in a Rs 13,000 crore bank scam, was seen walking down a London street in a video released by The Telegraph last night. Mehul Choksi, his uncle and co-accused, had earlier surrendered his passport to Antigua -- of which he is now a citizen -- in an attempt to avoid extradition to India. Both left the country last January, before the CBI could launch a probe into the alleged fraud.
The Congress often cites the case of Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and former liquor baron Vijay Mallya to accuse the Narendra Modi government of shielding high profile offenders. "Journalists of The Telegraph managed to track down Nirav Modi. Why was the Modi Govt unable to do so? Who is Modi trying to protect? Himself, Nirav Modi or the people who let him escape?" the opposition party tweeted from its official handle soon after the video emerged.
The centre says it is aware of the 48-year-old fugitive businessman's presence in the United Kingdom, and is waiting for a response to its extradition request.
The video shared by The Telegraph showed Nirav Modi in a pink shirt and a jacket made from Ostrich hide, possibly costing upwards of 10,000 pounds (over Rs 9 lakh). The visible extravagance amid the storm over the alleged multi-crore fraud involving a public sector bank drew widespread criticism. The Telegraph report also stated that the businessman was living in a three-bedroom flat in central London at an estimated rent of 17,000 pounds a month.
The Punjab National Bank scam involves fraudulent transactions amounting to crores of rupees allegedly carried out by firms and individuals associated with Nirav Modi in connivance with some officials to defraud the financial institution by using unauthorised bank guarantees.
(With inputs from Agencies)