At 8 pm on 8 November 2016, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to a live broadcast on Doordarshan to make the historic announcement that the government was demonetising notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, emphasising his commitment to ridding India of the “evils of corruption” and black money, at least five central agencies or commissions in Delhi were sitting on a tranche of documents that allegedly indicated that Modi had accepted bribes in excess of Rs 55 crore, or eight million dollars. It is unclear from the documents, whether there were 13 separate transactions that involved Modi and came to a total of Rs 55.2 crore or nine transactions totalling Rs 40.1 crore. In the documents, there appears to be a repetition of four specific transactions, which took place between 30 October 2013 and 29 November 2013 and have been accounted for under two separate headings.
The documents, which have been doing the rounds in Delhi for the last few months, suggest that during his tenure as chief minister of Gujarat, Modi—along with a number of important politicians—was paid large amounts of cash by individuals associated with Subrata Roy, the founder-chairman of the Sahara India Group. These documents also suggest that the recipients of such favours included, among others: Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh; Raman Singh, the chief minister of Chhattisgarh; Shaina NC, the treasurer for the Bharatiya Janata party in Maharashtra and; Sheila Dikshit, the former chief minister of Delhi.
On 17 November, The Caravan and The Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) e-mailed and wrote letters to Modi, Chouhan, Singh, Shaina NC and Dikshit, seeking their responses to the information contained in the documents—which the income tax department seized during a raid it conducted on various premises of the Sahara India Group in the national capital region on 22 November 2014. At the time of publication, no responses had been received. These responses will be published as and when they come in.