INDIA.Delhi: Union minister Smriti Irani, after being attack by the Congress over an alleged “illegal bar” run by her 18-year-old daughter, Zoish Irani in Goa, responded that it was her daughter’s only fault is that her mother was holding press conferences about “the loot of ₹5,000 crore from Sonia and Rahul Gandhi”.
She claimed that her daughter is a first year college student and does not run any bar. “It is my daughter’s fault that her mother is holding a press conference about the ₹5,000 crore loot from Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. It is her fault that her mother fought against Rahul Gandhi in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” the MP said.
The Congress had “assassinated” and “publicly mutilated” her daughter’s character, Irani told a press conference, allowing the opposition party to prove any wrongdoing. She denied the allegations and said she would seek answers “in the court and the people’s court”.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is questioning the Gandhis in connection with the money laundering case linked to the National Herald. Last month, Iran held a press conference where it accused the Congress of trying to protect “illegal assets worth over ₹2,000 crore” owned by the Gandhi family as they protested the questioning of Rahul Gandhi by the investigative agency.
She also threw an open challenge to Rahul Gandhi to contest again from the Amethi Lok Sabha seat in 2024. “I promise he will lose again,” she said.
Smriti Irani’s daughter’s lawyer, Kirat Nagra, said in a statement that his client is not the owner or operator of the restaurant named Silly Souls Goa and has not received any notice from any authority as reported.
Nagra said that the various “erroneous, frivolous, malicious and defamatory social media posts by various legitimate institutions seeking to settle political scores with our client’s mother, renowned politician Smriti Irani, each based on blatant falsehoods”.
The lawyer termed the allegations “baseless” and said: “It is unfortunate that they have resorted to spreading false propaganda only to create sensation without ascertaining the true facts and with the pre-determined objective of defaming our client for merely being the daughter of a political leader.”
The café-bar notice was imposed following a written complaint filed by Aires Rodrigues with the Excise Commissioner alleging that an Iranian family had obtained illegal liquor licenses with the help of excise officials and the local Assagao village panchayat.
Rodrigues, who filed the complaint after receiving Right to Information (RTI) documents in the matter from the Excise Department, sought a thorough investigation into the matter.
According to reports, RTI documents showed that the family was issued liquor licenses even though they did not have a restaurant license in the first place.
As per the Excise rules in Goa, according to the lawyer, it only allows an existing restaurant to be issued a bar license. However, in the case of Silly Souls Cafe and Bar, the Excise Department had flouted rules to grant the owners a license for foreign liquor and another for Indian foreign liquor and country liquor in February last year, even before he had a luxury restaurant operating permit.
According to RTI documents, the liquor license was allegedly issued by the excise department in the name of Anthony Dgama, whose Aadhaar cards say he is a resident of Mumbai. The license was renewed on June 29 at the local excise office in Mapusa in the name of Dgama even though he died on May 17 last year.
It was noted that the application for the renewal of the licence was made in the name of Anthony Dgama on June 22, 2022, though Dgama had died in May the previous year. The application “was signed by someone on behalf of the licence holder with an undertaking that ‘please renew this licence for the year 2022-23 and will transfer the said licence within six months,’” the excise department said.
Retaliating to Irani’s press conference, Rodrigues said, “The whole world knows that this upmarket ‘Silly Souls Cafe and Bar’ is managed and run by Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani’s family at Bhouta Vaddo in Assagao Village at Goa, and there is enough evidence to this effect”.
Citing that this is a “very serious issue”, the Congress also shared a copy of the show cause notice that was given to the bar and claimed that the excise officer who gave the notice was allegedly transferred under the coercion of the authorities. Party spokesperson Pawan Khera claimed that the license of the bar was taken in the name of a person who has been dead for over a year now.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said they urge the Prime Minister to dismiss Irani from the cabinet after documents of alleged illegal activities of Smriti Irani have come to surface.