BJP National President, Nitin Gadkari, hails from Nagpur in the Vidarbha region – one of the worst drought-prone and farmers’ suicide-prone areas. The initial charges against him were that his business conglomerate Purti Group got undue favors (see IAC’s website for the complete details and documentary evidences) from Sharad Pawar’s NCP party, whose nephew Ajit Pawar has been the irrigation minister for a decade in the congress-led govt in Maharashtra. The favors being referred to include being allotted agricultural lands from irrigation department in 4 days flat, when the original farmers’ (from whom those lands were earlier acquired for dam, but wasn’t all used) plea for return of lands were kept on hold for 2 years before and when there are rules against this in irrigation department and a Supreme Court ruling that says such unused lands can only be auctioned back. Also, Gadkari’s industries were diverted water from dams meant for irrigation in an already drought-prone Vidarbha. In return, while only the middle and lower level leaders of BJP were talking about it, top level BJP leaders like Gadkari (and other top leaders of BJP that was in opposition in Maharashtra) remained muted on the irrigation scam in which 70,000 crores were being spent for 10+ years, and the end result is only a 0.1% increase in irrigated lands (The Hindu).
A small side story: The day after Kejriwal’s press conference on Gadkari, media reported that the farmer Gajanan Ghatage, whose lands were taken away by Gadkari in collusion with Pawar and who had even registered a police FIR against Gadkari for land grabbing, went missing. He later turned up the next day only to say that Gadkari is a nice man and IAC coached him into saying bad things about Gadkari. Read the real truth here: The Hindu. The article says “Gajanan was last seen with Samay Bansod and Nana Menjhokhe, both of them working in the Purti factory [the factory owned by BJP president Nitin Gadkari]”. There are also four other farming families in that region, who have lost their agricultural lands due to this collusion between BJP and NCP.
The cozy relation between BJP and NCP does not end there. In Zilla Parishad elections of Vidarbha (where bulk of these irrigation scams happened) that were held in March 2012, NCP teamed up with BJP (Times of India). In Nagpur (Gadkari’s hometown), for example, NCP extended support to Sandhya Gotmare of BJP who got elected as the president. Vidarbha is the stronghold of both Gadkari and Sharad Pawar.
(1) Farmers (if they are, indeed, farmers) own only 10% of Gadkari’s company, Purti. Mr Gadkari himself owns only 200 shares. The bulk of Purti (around 80%) is owned by just 18 companies. These 18 companies invested about Rs 2-4 crore each, to form the bulk of Purti’s paid up capital of Rs 68 crore. This, essentially, was Purti’s start up money. When NDTV’s reporters paid them a visit at the registered addresses of these 18 major companies, they (surprise, surprise) hit a dead end. This investment mode through namesake companies is typical of politicians who want to channel their ill-gotten wealth into their own companies.
(2) There is one investor whose identity is known. Ideal Road Builders (IRB) purchased shares worth Rs 1.85 crore in Purti in 2001, just over a year after Mr Gadkari demitted office as Maharashtra’s Public Works Department (PWD) minister. During his tenure, Ideal was awarded a number of contracts by the PWD department, which eventually led to it becoming one of Maharashtra’s leading toll road companies (it is currently India’s 4th largest infra company). DP Mhaiskar, founder of IRB, also bought shares worth about Rs 2 crore in Purti. Together, IRB and Mr Mhaiskar control about 8% of Purti Group. In 2010, Purti Group received a secure loan of Rs 165 crore from a company called Global Safety Vision, which has DP Mhaiskar as its director.With this one loan, Purti was able to repay all its outstanding debt. Surprisingly, in its last regulatory filings, Global Safety Vision itself had only Rs 1 lakh paid up capital. Also, IRB has investment links with NCP’s Sharad Pawar family (FirstPost)
Here is more on IRB: The head of IRB, Mhaiskar, is under scanner (The Economic Times) for the murder of a Right To Information (RTI) activist, Satish Shetty, who was exposing corruption in land deals along the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Once gain, except for lower and middle level BJP party men, none from the top level took this up seriously against the ruling Congress-NCP, as any good opposition party is expected to have.
Later, TOI came up with a detailed report which showed that Gadkhari’s driver has been shown as directors in 6 of those fictitious companies, among other blatant frauds.