Shiv Sena: BJP man siphoned Rs 58 cr raised to save INS Vikrant

In a serious allegation, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Wednesday said that a Bharatiya Janata Party activist and ex-MP Kirit Somaiya allegedly siphoned off Rs 58 crore that was crowd-funded to save the country’s first aircraft carrier, the erstwhile ‘INS Vikrant’.

Raut said that the revelation has come out in RTI reply submitted by Maharashtra Raj Bhavan to an activist Dhirendra Upadhyay in March, and exposes the “treason” of Somaiya and his supporters.

The activist had demanded details of the funds raised from the public, retired and serving defence personnel and officials in an attempt to save the decommissioned ‘Vikrant’ from the scrapyard in 2013-2014.

“Somaiya had offered to help out with the fund-raisers and said the amount collected would be handed over to the Maharashtra Governor at Raj Bhavan. Finally, the Raj Bhavan has stated that no such money was received,” Raut said.

On his part, Somaiya said Raut is indulging only in “time-pass” after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) took action against his wife and friends on Tuesday.

“He had hurled so many allegations against my wife, my family and myself.” If he has any evidence against me then he should hand it over to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray” Somaiya said.

Labelling Somaiya as “an insect” (Keeda) which would be set right, Raut said the Maharashtra government would enquire into the misappropriation of the funds to “Save Vikrant”.

He said that Somaiya is a Chartered Accountant who knows how to “digest” such money and demanded that even the Central agencies conduct an impartial probe into the matter.

It may be recalled that after INS Vikrant was decommissioned in 1997, it was preserved as a museum till 2012, after which there was paucity of funds to maintain.

At that time Somaiya had offered to help out by a series of fund-raisers and crowd-funding drives in which an estimated Rs57-58 crore was collected that was to be handed over to the Raj Bhavan.

Now, Raut said after so many years it has come to light through RTI that the funds were never received by Raj Bhavan.

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