Ajit helped Gadkari get land for NGO, says IAC

Ajit helped Gadkari get land for NGO, says IAC

BJP leader made a killing at cost of dying farmers

Ajit helped Gadkari get land for NGO, says IAC

In their latest expose against politicians, anti-graft activists Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan on Wednesday alleged that BJP president Nitin Gadkari got 100 acres of government land which was acquired for an irrigation dam, for his NGO.

Addressing a news conference, they said the BJP president sought and received favours from Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ajit Pawar, then irrigation minister.

The India Against Corruption (IAC) campaigners also alleged that Gadkari has a sugar factory. Waste from this factory had polluted a river and a lake, resulting in loss of drinking water and death of fish.

While Gadkari denied all allegations, his party leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley rallied around him saying the allegations would be fought politically. In Nagpur, senior RSS leader M G Vaidya termed the allegations against Gadkari  “frivolous”.

Congress leader Digvijay Singh said the outcome of Kejriwal’s press meet was disappointing as he did not throw any new light on charges.

 “With 17 companies in his ownership, Gadkari used his political power to prosper in a region where farmers are committing suicide…Ajit Pawar has diverted water meant for irrigation to power industry,” Kejriwal added.

The anti-graft leaders produced documents to allege that Pawar, then irrigation minister, acted swiftly to allot the land owned by his department in Umred Taluka of Nagpur.

Gadkari, then president of Maharashtra BJP, wrote a letter on June 4, 2005, requesting allotment of land to his Vardha-based NGO, Purti Kalyankari Sanstha and on June 8, 2005, the request was processed on orders from Pawar. Despite objection raised by the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation (VIDC) that land acquired for public purposes can not be given to a private individual or organisation, it was allotted to the BJP leader.

According to IAC leaders, Gadkari’s men evicted Gajanna Ghadge, the farmer, who, till then, cultivated the land with permission from the irrigation department. The farmer lodged an FIR with the police. Later, Gadkari’s NGO started growing soya on the land.

Kejriwal produced letters of villagers of Bela in Umred who complained of drinking water getting polluted because of waste from Gadkari’s Purti Sugar Factory. The anti-graft activists alleged that wrongdoing by Gadkari led to farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha in Maharashtra. “Leaders from all political hues, the Congress, the NCP, the BJP and the Shiv Sena, have set up sugar factories and power plants and dam water is being diverted to their factories instead of going to farmlands. Leaders across party lines protect interests of each other,” alleged Kejriwal.

“When Gadkari receives a favour from the ruling coalition of the Congress-NCP in Maharashtra in the form of irrigation dam water and farmers’ lands, what does he offer in return as quid pro quo? It is silence regarding irrigation scams?” asked Kejriwal. IAC activist Anjali Damania, who unearthed the irrigation scam, and Gopal Rai, another activist, were also present at the press conference.

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