Thursday, 18 October 2012

Gadkari refutes Arvind Kejriwal's allegations, BJP rallies behind him

Nitin Gadkari refutes Arvind Kejriwal's allegations, BJP rallies behind him
Clean Media Correspondent

New Delhi, Oct 18 (CMC) BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday termed the allegations of corruption levelled against him by India Against Corruption's Arvind Kejriwal as "baseless" and a "conspiracy by the Congress" and said he was ready for a probe.

"The allegations of land grab against me are baseless," said Gadkari, addressing a press conference just after ejriwal and his colleagues accused him of grabbing the land of poor farmers in Maharashtra, as well as of corruption in irrigation projects.
"It is a design to tarnish my image... it is very sad," said Gadkari, adding that it was a "Congress conspiracy".

He said he was always ready for a probe and his conscience was clean.

Rallying behind Gadkari, senior BJP leaders on Wednesday rejected charges of any wrongdoing by him in acquiring land in Maharashtra and said the allegations would be fought politically and not legally.

BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley came out in strong defence of the party chief, saying the charges were "false and baselss".

Addressing a joint press conference, the two leaders took a dig at activist-turned-politician Kejriwal, saying he was rubbishing all parties to "hog the limelight".

"Lot of hype was created about the press conference as if some big bomb is being exploded... He (Kejriwal) tried his best to dig out some scam but could not find anything," said Swaraj, leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha.

"We are happy that our national president is not involved in any scam. The party is fully with him," she said.

Dubbing Kejriwal's press conference as "just like an election rally", Swaraj said, "We will fight politically. We won't go for defamation suit."

Jaitley said since Kejriwal was forming a political party, he has the ambition of hogging the "limelight".

"A mountain of what was not even a mole-hill sought to be created... The hitman (Kejriwal) has scored a self-goal."

In a televised press conference, Kejriwal, citing a probe by his IAC activists, said Gadkari used his influence with the state's ruling Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine and usurped land acquired to build a dam in Vidarbha region.

Kejriwal cited documents to claim that Gadkari had kept "silent" on the "issue of corruption in irrigation dams" in Maharashtra because he had got favours in the form of land grants from the state government. Alleged corruption in irrigation projects led to the resignation of NCP leader Ajit Pawar last month.

It's alleged that large-scale favours were given to contractors and companies during the construction of dams when Pawar was irrigation minister.

A press release from IAC alleged Pawar had favoured "Gadkari's organisations" during land acquisitions for irrigation projects and at least two families in Khursapur Village in Nagpur district -- the BJP chief's home -- were threatened by the BJP leader's henchmen.

"We attach herewith stories* of two families from a village. Land in this village was acquired by Maharashtra government to construct dams. Land acquired was far in excess of actual requirements. According to rules, the excess land should either be returned to farmers or leased out to them for farming," said a press release from IAC.

"Flouting these rules and despite repeated requests from farmers, the excess land was handed over to Nitin Gadkari's organizations by Ajit Pawar, the then irrigation minister. This was also in violation of rules because land belonging to irrigation department cannot be transferred or leased to private organisations. When farmers protested, they were threatened by Gandkari's henchmen."

IAC alleged that Gadkari refused to help activist Anjali Damania in August when she showed him "evidence" of corruption in irrigation projects.

"How could you expect us to speak against Mr Sharad Pawar (NCP chief)? Chaar kaam wo hamare karte hain, chaar kaam hum unke karte hain (he helps us and we help him)," Gadkari allegedly told Damania.

Gadkari has "five power producing industries and three sugar industries" in Maharashtra.

"That is the reason why he did not wish to raise the issue of corruption in irrigation dams in Maharashtra," said the press release.

"When the interests of farmers were being sold out to favorite industrialists, why was Nitin Gadkari silent? Why did he not raise his voice against it?" said the press release.

Kejriwal rejected Gadkari's claim that he had requested the central Government to release Rs. 400 crore to contractors constructing irrigation dams so that farmers are benefited.

"Did he write even a single letter to any government and request them not to divert farmers' water to industrialists?" he said.

Kejriwal was considered the closest aide of social activist Anna Hazare and the key strategist of the popular anti-graft movement last year before the two parted ways recently.

On October 2, he and several colleagues from the India Against Corruption organisation they are forming a political party.

In recent days, he has attacked law minister Salman Khurshid and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra over the issue of corruption.

Last week he declared that "five top politicians" were in his firing line after Vadra.

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