New Delhi: CNN-IBN has accessed details of yet another shell company associated with BJP president Nitin Gadkari. Four companies were reportedly found registered to an address in Andheri, Mumbai, that does not exist.
The companies, called Leverage Fintrade, Jasika Mercantile, Strelight Fincom and Regency Equifin were registered to a certain 'Salarsa Society' in Andheri. However, locals said there is no such address.
The directors in these companies include Gadkari's accountant Kawdu Zade and two employees of Purti.
RSS, Advani back Gadkari, say he is ready for probe
Refuting corruption charges against BJP President Nitin Gadkari, senior party leader LK Advani on Wednesday said that allegations against Gadkari are more to neutralise the unprecedented charges against the ruling UPA. Advani released a statement in which he said, "One of the allegations of wrong doing against Nitin ji relating to land issue has been proved wrong according to media reports themselves. Next, on certain media allegations questioning investments in business enterprises Nitin ji has come clean asking for an inquiry by the Department of Company Affairs. It is a fair and proper response. I congratulate Nitin ji for voluntarily asking for an inquiry."
Meanwhile, Gadkari has also got the support of the RSS and Sangh leader MG Vaidya said that this is a trial by media. The BJP said that the party chief is ready to face any probe. RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat earlier on Wednesday refused to comment on charges against Gadkari, calling it the BJP's internal matter.
While Mohan Bhagwat hit out at the UPA government on the corruption front, he kept silent on Gadkari's dubious dealings. Interestingly, he also said that the RSS backed activists are fighting for a corruption free India.
And while coming out of an event, Gadkari avoided interacting with the media. An RSS functionary pushed away mediapersons who tried getting close to him and the usually affable Gadkari walked to his car ignoring the journalists.
Charges against Gadkari
Gadkari on Tuesday found himself in trouble with the government deciding to go into allegations of dubious funding in his companies which cast a shadow over his getting a second term as party president in December. As embarrassing details tumbled out about the funding for Purti Power and Sugar Ltd run by Gadkari, Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily said as the information on the issue has come in public domain; the Registrars of Companies will "definitely inquire into it".
"We have not ordered anything. It is all coming in the newspapers. Since it has come in public domain, we told our ministry to make some discreet inquiry to find out what exactly is the matter. Are there any violations of Companies Act?" he said. When asked whether the business dealings of Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, will also be scrutinised, he said the two issues were separate and there was no link between them.
Media reports have raised questions over the source of funds for Purti Power and Sugar Ltd controlled by Gadkari. Media investigations claim that major investments and large loans to Purti were made by a construction firm Ideal Road Builders (IRB) group, which had won contracts between 1995 and 1999, when Gadkari was PWD minister in Maharashtra. Gadkari has denied the allegations and offered himself and his companies to any probe.
BJP attacked the government saying its approach was "selective and prejudiced" about dealing with Gadkari issue while ignoring corruption allegations against Vadra and former Union Minister Virbhadra Singh. The party said it endorses the stand of Gadkari that he was open to any investigation by any competent authority.
Adding to Gadkari's discomfiture, his party MP Ram Jethmalani demanded his resignation in the wake of corruption allegations and asked him not to seek a second term in office. "In the interest of the party, in his own interest, he should get out of the fray now and he must give the position to somebody who inspires greater confidence. He should not aspire for a second term," he said. "Obviously, there is suspicion about his integrity and in the interest of the party and his own interest he must get out of this position. It weakens the party position. In the coming elections we are fighting against corruption and we have to have a man of absolute impeccable integrity," he said.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who has been attacking Gadkari, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking an investigation into the dealings of Gadkari's company. "Gadkari has also said that he is open to a free and fair investigation. Being the National President of BJP, it is in the fitness of things that his case is properly investigated and he gets a fair opportunity to prove his innocence and clear his name," Digvijay Singh wrote in his letter.
Our stand vindicated: IAC
Arvind Kejriwal-led India Against Corruption (IAC) claimed that fresh allegations against Gadkari vindicated their stand that Congress and BJP were hand-in-glove on corruption and dared Congress and NCP to act against the BJP chief. It was the IAC that first questioned quid pro quo in Gadkari's business dealings. IAC member Prashant Bhushan demanded that Gadkari be charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act for misusing his office as a PWD Minister to favour a company that gave him a loan of Rs 164 crore.
"Obviously, it's an attempt by both the parties to put the matter in cold storage. Gadkari took a loan of 164 Rs crore from a company to whom he had given various benefits as a PWD Minister of Maharastra. Therefore, under the prevention of corruption act, if a public servant receives any kind of gratification for himself or any other person from a company with whom he has official dealings as a public servant than that amounts to corruption under prevention of corruption act," Bhushan said.
Speaking to CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Bhushan said the country was now experiencing a club of corrupt politicians cutting across political parties who are today in power. "The other day somebody else will be in power. They will protect each other's turf. All conspire to ensure that there are no credible institutions of accountability in this country, so that none of them are held accountable."
Earlier, Kejriwal also claimed that the fresh allegations that 80 per cent of the shares in Gadkari's cooperative were owned by a few companies "proves" that Congress and BJP are hand in glove in corruption. "Would Congress and NCP chief Sharad Pawar have courage to act against Gadkari? Or BJP-Congress bhai bhai?" he said.
(With additional information from PTI)