Wednesday, 31 October 2012

'Am ready for any inquiry, what about Congress' son-in-law?' asks Nitin Gadkari

'Am ready for any inquiry, what about Congress' son-in-law?' asks Nitin Gadkari
Clean Media Correspondent

Mumbai, Oct 31 (CMC) Hundreds of supporters gathered at the Mumbai airport this morning to welcome BJP President Nitin Gadkari, who confronts grave corruption charges. "There are attempts being made to slander me, to destroy my reputation," he said.  "We are not scared... eent ka jawab patthar se denge (we will retaliate blow for blow)."

Mr Gadkari has cancelled a second round of campaigning in Himachal Pradesh which votes next month. 

He said that while he has agreed to cooperate with any inquiry, the Congress has made no such offer for Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who has been accused of using his political influence to get sweetheart deals for himself in Haryana  from real estate builder DLF. "If I am ready for any investigation, why isn't the Congress' son-in-law?" he asked.   

His party has stood by him on record; but privately, sources say, the BJP is shaken up by the allegations against its president and their potential ability to derail its focus on offering itself as a corruption-free alternative to the Congress, which is ensnared in a series of swindles.

In the steady hum of allegations against Mr Gadkari, what has  struck out is the suggestion that his business empire is founded in financial malpractices ranging from funding by shell companies to money laundering - charges now being investigated by income tax officials.

At the airport, he refuted a series of controversies that have principally involved him, including the case of a young girl who was found dead in a car parked at his home in Nagpur in 2009.   Mr Gadkari said that investigators have cleared him, but the media continues to suggest otherwise.  He also said that he has established that he has not exploited irrigation projects or the interests of farmers in Maharashtra to further business interests  -an accusation levelled by activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal.

Earlier this month, a TV channel reported on the dubious credentials of investor firms that bought into the company Mr Gadkari co-founded in 2000, Purthi Power and Sugar. The government is verifying the source of funds for this intricate matrix of investors, many of who appear to share bogus addresses and directors.

Yesterday, income tax officials visited the offices of these firms in different cities. In some cases, carpenters were busy assembling furniture and shaping offices in an attempt to lend the firms some credibility as genuine and functional businesses.

Sources involved with yesterday's exercise say 13 people linked to these firms were questioned; some directors appear to be "men of no means" furthering the suspicion of ghost investors.