New Delhi: As the nation was shocked by the news of the suicide of Cafe Coffee Day head VG Siddhartha, which also triggered anxiety about the state of the economy, Congress spokesman and Supreme Court lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi seized the ‘opportunity’ to train guns at his political opponents, the ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, early on Wednesday. Shocked by his tweets, fellow lawyer Amitabh Sinha described Singhvi’s behaviour as “irresponsible and unethical”.
While an impression gained ground following the news of the death that a regime adverse to business pushed the entrepreneur to end his life, reports emerged subsequently in the media that Siddhartha was not all that clean. “However, there is, on the one hand, a custom worldwide not to speak ill of the dead and, on the other, politicising a tragedy is not in good taste,” said Sinha.
Soon after Siddhartha’s alleged suicide note surfaced on media, the income tax department had stated that the signature on the note did not match the copy in his annual reports that they have. “The authenticity of the note is not known and the signature does not tally with Siddhartha’s signature as available in his annual reports,” said the office of the principal commissioner of income tax, Karnataka and Goa. While the note had named no officer, the office of BR Balakrishna, director-general of I-T (investigation wing) issued the press release.
The statement by the I-T department of Siddhartha’s signature mismatch gives rise to the possibility of a foul play.
The raids conducted on the premises of Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar and his financial assistant N Chandrashekar Sukapuri on 2 August 2017 revealed that the CCD had transferred Rs 20 crore to Shivakumar surreptitiously. As the I-T department dug deeper, a certain Singapore citizen called Rajnish Gopinath surfaced, who admitted that the unaccounted cash worth Rs 1.2 crore, which was in his possession, belonged to Siddhartha. This Gopinath is the brother of Muneesh Gopinath, director, finance, CCD.
What damns the dead even more, sources in the department had told the media then, “It is more damaging to note that numerous messages have been found in this mobile which indicates his active involvement in cross-border hawala transactions. Strong evidence has been observed in his telephonic conversations, too.”
Thereafter, following a raid on the office of Siddhartha, the I-T department said, “In the search action, after considering the evidence gathered by the department, Siddhartha admitted the unaccounted income of Rs 362.11 crore and Rs 118.02 crore, in the hands of Siddhartha and M/s Coffee Day Enterprises Ltd, respectively, in the sworn statement.”
In the light of these findings, Sinha said about Singhvi, “I can understand what being a politician means but it certainly does not entail drawing political mileage out of a dead body. You (Singhvi) are a lawyer also; people expect more responsible behaviour from lawyers as well.”
“There are three possibilities,” Sinha said, trying to figure what made Singhvi make political statements this morning. “One, he was hand-in-glove with Siddhartha. Two, he wanted to settle a score with Siddhartha’s father-in-law after SM Krishna left the Congress and joined the BJP. Three, he wanted some limelight at any cost, much as that might involve a dead person,” he said. “This is shameful and disgusting,” Sinha said.
“Singhvi should have known the darker side of Siddhartha would surface if he politicised the suicide of the CCD owner,” said Sinha, adding, “This is unethical.”
“It takes a brazen character to face the people unabashedly after the kind of salacious video featuring Singhvi surfaced a few years ago. This attitude suggests he is resigned to the realisation that his reputation cannot be damaged any further. Hence, why not make others also live the hell of ignominy?” Sinha concluded.