BJP rallies around party leader amid controversy over son's business

Mr Amit Shah (with raised finger) and his son Jay (in spectacles) in October 2010. Mr Jay Shah is suing The Wire for its report into his commodity trading business. The report said the turnover in Mr Jay Shah's firm grew by 16,000 times after 2014, w
Mr Amit Shah (with raised finger) and his son Jay (in spectacles) in October 2010. Mr Jay Shah is suing The Wire for its report into his commodity trading business. The report said the turnover in Mr Jay Shah's firm grew by 16,000 times after 2014, when the BJP came to power.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has rallied around its president, Mr Amit Shah, amid a growing political controversy about the business affairs of his son, Mr Jay Shah, whose firm was reported to have enjoyed a massive boost in turnover after the party came to power.

The younger Mr Shah, a Gujarat-based businessman, has strenuously denied any wrongdoing or corruption.

On Monday, he sued online news portal The Wire for its report into his commodity trading business.

Editors of The Wire - founded in 2015 and published by a non-profit Indian company, Foundation for Independent Journalism - have stood by their report which, among other things, said the turnover in Mr Jay Shah's firm grew by 16,000 times after 2014.

In a statement last Friday, Mr Jay Shah said: "The article makes false, derogatory and defamatory imputation against me by creating in the minds of right-thinking people an impression that my business owes its 'success' to my father Shri Amitbhai Shah's political position."

Cabinet ministers and leading BJP leaders have come out in support of Mr Jay Shah, even as the opposition trained its guns on his father and Mr Modi.

Controversy was fuelled further after a senior government lawyer, Mr Tushar Mehta, the additional solicitor general, received official clearance to represent Mr Jay Shah in the defamation case.

BJP leaders have said that they had no choice but to go on the offensive, with the opposition targeting its most powerful leaders.

"We are defending because the party president and the Prime Minister have been dragged in," railway minister Piyush Goyal told the Indian media. Mr Goyal added that it was not uncommon for agri businesses to grow fast.

Home minister Rajnath Singh yesterday ruled out any investigation against Mr Jay Shah, saying there was "no basis for an investigation".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline 'BJP rallies around party leader amid controversy over son's business'. Print Edition | Subscribe