: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Wednesday accused the former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya of financial bungling, alleging that while he had collected about Rs 50 crore from the people as part of a campaign to save the INS Vikrant but the fund wasn’t submitted to the state exchequer.
Addressing a press conference in the national capital, the Shiv Sena leader demanded a probe by the Maharashtra government against Somaiya while also claiming that it’s a fit case to be probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Income Tax (IT) and Enforcement Directorate (ED).
“In the 1971 war against Pakistan, the Indian Navy played a key role, including the INS Vikrant. When the situation of the INS Vikrant got bad and it got difficult to maintain, there were campaigns for turning it into a museum,” Raut said.
He said about Rs 200 crore was required for the purpose, and the Central or state governments couldn’t provide the financial support.
“There were campaigns across the country for saving the INS Vikrant. All party leaders from Maharashtra used to come to Delhi and meet the then Defence Minister AK Antony or the Prime Minister. Kirit Somaiya used to be part of the campaign,” added Rout.
The Shiv Sena leader alleged that Kirit Somaiya started a campaign to raise funds for the INS Vikrant.
“Somaiya appealed to the people with the help of his volunteers to collect money to ‘Save Vikrant’ by wearing the t-shirts and jerseys and going to Mumbai airport and railway stations. Many people back then in the name of the INS Vikrant donated lakhs and crores of money. Three-four people called me yesterday and said that they had donated Rs 5,000 and 10,000 rupees in Navy Nagar, Church gate and Chembur,” he added.
Raut alleged that more than Rs 50 crore was collected for the INS Vikrant but the information from Raj Bhawan said that not a single paise was submitted.
“As per the information, more than Rs 50 crore was collected officially. People thought that all this money will go into saving INS Vikrant. Somaiya then said in all the newspapers that they will submit the money to Raj Bhavan’s account by opening a separate independent account. We got the information from Rajya Bhawan that no such amount had been submitted,” alleged Rout.
The Shiv Sena leader stated that “while the amount may be less than the Bofors, Agusta Westlands or Rafale scams, it’s connected with the nation’s security”.
“The Maharashtra government will investigate this matter. But it is also the responsibility of the central government. I appeal to Income Tax, and the CBI to hold an inquiry. It is directly a case of treason,” alleged Rout. (ANI)