New Delhi: Stirring the hornet's nest in BJP, MP Ram Jethmalani on Tuesday renewed his attack on party chief Nitin Gadkari and demanded his resignation, saying the fresh allegations against him in the Maharashtra land scam will compromise the BJP's campaign against corruption. Speaking to CNN-IBN, he said that Gadkari should not be given the second term as the BJP president as there are serious allegations of corruption against him.
However, BJP spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi defended Gadkari, saying "Whatever allegations are there, we've given clarification several times. We can give it again if needed. There is no embarrassment of any sorts to the party."
Sudhir Dive, MD, Purti Group, also said that all the allegations against Gadkari are baseless and politically inspired. "As of today, Nitin Gadkari has no relation with the Purti group. We were given a loan of Rs 164 crore from Global Safety Vision. It has to be returned in 73 installments. There are 10500 shareholder of Purti group. One or two address might be wrong. We are ready for any probe."
Earlier, Jethmalani had strongly pitched for projecting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections. In a letter to Gadkari, he said the party must declare its prime ministerial candidate to help convince the voters in its pre-2014 election campaign. "I do not think that the choice is difficult...I would want Narendra Modi whose integrity and administrative ability are not in doubt," Jethamalani, a Rajya Sabha member, said.
Meanwhile, more questions have been raised over Gadkari's business interests after new details surfaced saying that the shell companies have been found to have invested in Gadkari's Purti group. Reports reveal an infrastructure company called IRB gave Purti Ltd a loan of Rs 165 crores, two years after IRB was awarded road contracts by Gadkari when he was the PWD minister.
Purti Power and Sugar Ltd in which the BJP President owns shares 18 companies and that hold 80 per cent of equity in Purti industries are seemingly shell companies. These companies do not exist at their registered addresses.
Also, directors of investor companies in Purti include Gadkari's driver, accountant and employees of Purti themselves. Manohar Panse, Gadkari's driver is a director in five of Purti's investor companies. Between 2009 and 2011, Panse was a director in six other companies. Nineteen of these investor companies were registered with same email id.
Meanwhile, India Against Corruption member Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Tuesday morning, "Read today's TOI for big expose against Nitin Gadkari. But would Congress and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar have courage to act against Gadkari? Or BJP-Congress bhai bhai?"
Reacting to the fresh allegations, Union Minister Veerappa Moily said, "I have heard about the allegations, shall look into the allegations to see whether books are in order. I have asked secretary and registrar of companies to look into it."
Kejriwal's corruption allegations against Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra, BJP President Nitin Gadkari and NCP Chief Sharad Pawar had resulted in what many are calling the conspiracy of silence.
After Kejriwal's earlier allegations against Gadkari, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said, "The whole party and its cadre is behind Nitin Gadkari." The party rallied around its beleaguered president within minutes after India Against Corruption levelled a slew of corruption allegations against Gadkari. However, with IAC's Mumbai activists Mihir Gandhi and Anajani Damania under media scrutiny, Gadkari has got the breather.
Not only the BJP, the RSS top brass has stood by the Nagpur boy in this hour of crisis. With top sangh leaders camping in Delhi last week just after the IAC presser and to evolve consensus for another term for Gadkari which looks almost certain now. The allegations against Gadkari, the RSS feels have not been politically damaging. Especially with leaders from both the Opposition and the NDA coming to Gadkari's rescue.
Even the main Opposition, the Congress grappling with multiple and continues assault from IAC is playing safe and has so far resisted taking up issues raised by Kejriwal. As for Gadkari, with RSS by his side he seems all set to don the mantle of presidentship once again and be at the helm of party affairs when next Lok Sabha elections are held.
- Is there a conspiracy of silence between political parties on Gadkari?
- Did Gadkari push aides to key posts in companies that invested in Purti Ltd?
- Why did IRB give loans to Gadkari's company after he cleared its road contracts?