New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has hit back at India Against Corruption member Anjali Damania, releasing a letter written by the activist to the Maharashtra irrigation department. In the June 2011 letter released by BJP, Damania says that the location of a proposed dam coming up in Kondhane-Karjat be shifted by about 500 to 700 metres so that 30 acres of her property would not get submerged.
In her letter, Damania says that there is no private land but Adivasi land beyond 700 metres and she mentions that the Adivasis can be adequately compensated. The BJP has alleged that Anjali Damania had her own land issues, which led her to target BJP President Nitin Gadkari.
Reacting to BJP's charges, Damania accused the BJP of arm twisting. "I have not done anything wrong. If this was a case of personal vengeance, I would not have fought, but sorted it out on a personal level," Damania said.
Accusing Gadkari of taking over land taken away from a farmer in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, India Against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal had said Gadkari was promoting his business interests at the cost of farmers. "Whose interests does Gadkari represent? He has a very big business empire. His interests are clashing with those of Vidarbha's farmers?" the activist-cum-politician said.
Kejriwal targeted Gadkari accusing him of receiving personal favours by getting around 100 acres of agriculture land in Maharashtra after the Congress-NCP government there bent rules. Utilising a press conference to "expose" Gadkari, the activist-turned-politician alleged that all parties were involved in a cosy relationship of "looting" the country even though they raise issues against each other just for the sake of it.
Anjali Damania had also alleged that when she went to Gadkari to seek help in filing a PIL in teh Maharashtra irrigation scam, Gadkari refused to help. "I met Nitin Gadkari thrice - twice in 2011 and once on August 14, 2012 to discuss about the irrigation scam. What he told me shocked me. He said Sharad Pawar does something for his party and his party does something for Pawar. He said you can go ahead with your fight but we can't do anything," Damania had said. Gadkari had also slapped a legal notice accusing her of defaming him.
Soon after Kejriwal levelled the allegations, Gadkari rejected charges that he had acquired land in Maharashtra in an improper manner and expressed readiness for any kind of probe while his party leaders rallied behind him. Gadkari dismissed these as "baseless, wrong and unfortunate" and said the activist-turned-politician was trying to usurp the opposition space in collusion with Congress whose image has suffered due to corruption cases. "The allegations of land (grabbing) are absurd. Land has been given on lease to a charitable trust which functions like a cooperative. It is not owned by me," Gadkari said. "I am ready for any kind of probe," he said, while claiming that the land (about 100 acres) was a wasteland valued at only Rs 20 lakh.
Farmer named by IAC missing, wife living in fear
Meanwhile, The wife of a farmer from Vidarbha, Gajanan Ghadge, named by India Against Corruption while bringing out the revelations against BJP President Nitin Gadkari, has told CNN-IBN that her husband has been missing since the controversy began. She said that she is living in fear and does not know whether or not she should file a complaint.
India Against Corruption had claimed that Gadkari's men were threatening her. Gadkari is alleged to have got the land that belonged to her husband. Arvind Kejriwal had said Gadkari's business links were harming the interests of farmers. Kejriwal alleged that the state government acquired excess land and did not give it back to farmers as per law. He said Gajanan Ghadge had approached the government seeking return of his land. But the government sat on it for almost two years but when Gadkari wrote a letter seeking transfer of the same land to him, Pawar wrote a letter recommending it in four days, he alleged. "There was action on Gadkari's letter very fast but a representation by the farmer did not get any response for two years. And when it came, they were not given back," Kejriwal said.
Full text of Anjali Damania's letter released by BJP: