AHMEDABAD: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of promoting multinational companies at the cost of the country’s small businesses and demanded a probe by a Supreme Court judge into a report of what he claimed was bribery involving e-commerce giant Amazon.
Singh was reacting to a recent report that Amazon spent about Rs 8,546 crore or USD 1.2 billion in legal and professional expenses in the country between 2018 and 2020.
However, in a letter to Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Amazon had called the reports inaccurate that “appears to stem from a misunderstanding” of some filings.
“Now, legal fees are either court fees or fees to the advocates. Even the annual budget of the Law Ministry is only Rs 1,100 crore, and advocates’ fees cannot be that high. We demand an investigation into the allegations by a judge of the Supreme Court. A probe would reveal as to which political party, officials and politicians accept bribes,” Singh told reporters here.
He also asked if Amazon paid bribes for a change in the (Union) government’s FDI policy that directly benefited e-commerce giants like the former at the cost of India’s small and medium retailers.
Singh also sought an investigation into the inter-corporate relationship between the sister companies of Amazon, which, as per reports, together with paid the fees.
Talking to reporters at the Congress headquarters here, Singh said RSS-inclined magazine ‘Panchjanya’ recently compared Amazon to today’s East India Company “because Modi’s approach is now focused on large corporate sectors.”
The Rajya Sabha MP claimed PM Modi, on coming to power, had said his government will continue with the e-commerce policy framed by the Congress-led UPA, but a major policy shift was seen in 2016.
The Modi government allowed 100 per cent FDI in retail, “which was a direct attack on neighbourhood shops, and from then till today, small and medium retailers are the worst affected due to this”, he said.
BJP leaders, who were against Aadhaar card, GST, MNREGA and FDI in retail (when in the opposition), changed their stand after coming to power to mislead people, he said, adding that “they (BJP) are now totally anti-farmer, anti-consumer, anti-small and medium trader and industry”.
Due to demonetisation, the ill-conceived GST and the COVID-19 pandemic, four lakh small and medium industries were destroyed, he said.
“Modi announced a package of Rs 20 lakh crore, but there was nothing in it for small and medium industries. It was meant to clear the balance sheet of large corporations,” Singh claimed.
The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister went on to add that the three new farm laws passed by the Centre in September last year were meant to help large corporations in the agriculture sector at the cost of small and medium traders operating in APMCs.
He also sought a Supreme Court probe into the Mundra port drug haul case, saying e did not trust the National Investigation Agency because several accused in blast cases were acquitted after the Modi government came to power.
How can one trust if the prosecution starts speaking on behalf of the defendants, Singh asked.
On his recent acknowledgement of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s help to him during the Gujarat leg of Narmada Parikrama undertaken by him in 2017, Singh said he will make arrangements for Shah in Madhya Pradesh if he undertakes the circumambulation of the holy river.