Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s son Kartikey Chouhan on Tuesday filed a criminal defamation suit against Rahul Gandhi for accusing him of being involved in the Panama Papers scam, PTI reported. The Panama Papers leak in 2016 revealed the names of politicians, movie stars and business leaders across the world who had stashed money in tax havens.
Kartikey Chouhan demanded an apology from Gandhi within 48 hours. “Rahul Gandhi has made a false allegation of my involvement in the Panama Papers scam,” Kartikey Chouhan said. “I am aggrieved as my reputation as well as that of my family was damaged in a childish manner.”
On Monday, the chief minister had threatened to file a criminal defamation case against Gandhi for accusing him and his family of being involved in the Vyapam scam – involving the fixing of exams conducted for recruitment to government jobs and admissions to state-run medical colleges – and the Panama Papers. “I am filing a criminal defamation suit for maximum damages against you for frivolous and malafide statements,” Chouhan said in a tweet addressed to Gandhi. “Let law take its own course now.”
Kartikey Chouhan’s petition alleged that the Congress president had intentionally made a statement to defame him. The Special Court of Additional District Judge Suresh Singh set the next hearing for November 3.
The Chouhan family has denied being involved in the scams.
At a rally in Jhabua district on Monday, the Congress president alleged that the name of the chief minister’s son had surfaced in the Panama Papers leak in 2016, The Indian Express reported.
“On one side, you have the watchman [Narendra Modi], on the other side you have mama ji [a reference to Chouhan],” NDTV quoted Gandhi as saying. “The name of the son of mama ji figured in Panama Papers.”
The Congress president said former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had to resign because of his name appearing in the Panama Papers, but claimed no action was taken against the Madhya Pradesh chief minister or his family.
“For the past many years, Congress has been accusing me and my family,” Chouhan said in another tweet. “We respect everybody and maintain our dignity but today Rahul Gandhi crossed his limits when he said my son Kartikey’s name has come in Panama Papers.” He alleged that staying away from power was getting to Gandhi and was “affecting him mentally”.
After the chief minister’s defamation threat, the Congress president said he had been confused between the scams as the BJP was involved in many corruption cases. “There is so much corruption in the BJP that I got confused,” Gandhi claimed, according to ANI. “The Madhya Pradesh chief minister has not done Panama, but he has done e-tendering and Vyapam scams.”
The Central Bureau of Investigation is investigating cases related to alleged irregularities in various entrance and recruitment exams conducted by the Madhya Pradesh Professional Examination Board – also known as the Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal, or Vyapam. Although first information reports in the scam have been filed since 1995, the racket finally came to light in May 2012.
The Congress is looking to win the November 28 Assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, which has been ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party for the last 15 years.