New Delhi: As Ashok Gehlot enters his final year as the Rajasthan Chief Minister, he is at the centre of a major sandstone mining scam. He is facing allegations of awarding contracts to his close relatives at throwaway rates. He allegedly even altered mining contract norms in 2012.
Ashok Gehlot is facing allegations of allotting sandstone mines around Jodhpur's 'Bada Kotecha' village, to his close relatives. Of 37 mines allotted there, 19 went to Gehlot's relatives at throwaway prices including Manjula Gehlot, wife of the CM's brother Agrasen, Shalini Gehlot, his brother's daughter-in-law and Veena Kachhawa, wife of his nephew Jaswant Singh. The IBN Network does in fact have the names of all the relatives favoured.
It is also alleged that in November 2012, Gehlot altered mining allotment norms to suit his relatives. First, that mines at Bada Kotecha would be allotted to those who owned sandstone factories at Mandor Stone Park and that applications even for less than 5 hectares up to 1 hectare would be accepted.
The new norms favoured 37 of the original 87 applicants including 19 Gehlot relatives. Ashok Gehlot's brother Agrasen Gehlot said, "There are the highest number of Gehlots in our community so they are saying that everybody named is our brother or a relative. This is just a political propaganda by the Opposition."
A factory owner at the Mandor Stone Park said he wrote to Rahul Gandhi about the alleged mining scam. Petitioner Kailash Gehlot said, "All the relatives got together and decided that they would acquire all the leases in the stone park. Outsiders were moved away in various ways and Gehlot loyalists got all the leases."
The Mandor Stone Park accepted that many allottees are the CM's relatives but said that their factories badly need the stone from the new mines.
Rajasthan's Minister of State for mining Rajendra Parekh had this to say, "All the residents of Rajasthan are Gehlot's relatives." As another scam tumbles out of the UPA closet, it is now Ashok Gehlot's turn to give his party the blushes.