Recently the BJP President Amit Shah was under a cloud of controversy due to media’s claims of his assets rising by 300% in the last 5 years. This rise was calculated by the media on the basis of Amit Shah’s 2017 election affidavit, which he filed for the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections. This affidavit was compared to the one he had filed in 2012 [PDF].
What added to the whole controversy was the fact that the articles about this jump in assets, which appeared in DNA, Economic Times, and TOI’s Ahmedabad edition were mysteriously removed from the websites.
This led to a few conspiracy theorists including the AAP questioning whether there was some pressure on the media to remove such articles. The leftist propaganda blog The Wire, which compared a mass murderer to our Army Chief, too came up with an article that raised questions over disappearance of the said articles.
Here’s a screenshot of one the ‘disappeared’ articles:
The stories, some of which are still online , didn’t explain as to why did Shah’s assets more than tripled in 5 years. This led people to assume whether it was the result of his increased stature in Indian politics ever since Narendra Modi came to power in centre.
Whenever such a steep rise is reported in politician’s case, the general public assumes that some form of ‘jhol’ is involved. However, the BJP, whose minister recently showed great promptness in quelling a fake news report, decided to be very laid back in its response, which allowed people to come up with all kinds of conjectures behind the rise in assets and disappearance of the articles.
The party finally woke up after 3 long days and issued a press release via senior leader Piyush Goyal to clarify the surge in Shah’s assets:
The release expressed disappointment over the fact that the media didn’t fully analyse the election affidavit before filing its report. The press release stated that in 2012, Shah and his wife’s assets totalled about Rs 11 crores. Then on 28th February 2013, Shah’s mother unfortunately passed away and he inherited his mother’s assets worth Rs 18.85 crores via a court probate. Thus his total assets grew to Rs 29.84 crores in 2013 which has now grown to Rs 34.31 crores chiefly due to appreciation of his properties. The release also claimed that this information was detailed in the election affidavit, but the media chose to ignore and instead go with sensationalised headlines.
So it was inheritance, not any fresh acquisition of properties, which saw Shah’s asset valuation zoom, and the inheritance happened before Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister. Media reports could have mentioned this aspect.
However, it is strange that instead of updating their reports with this information and context, the media outlets simply deleted their reports. The least one expects is that media outlets should have put up a message on the same URL informing about the reason why they had deleting the reports.