New Delhi, Oct 17 (IBNS) India Against Corruption (IAC) leader Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday fired his first major salvo at the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by "exposing" a nexus between its president Nitin Gadkari and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) ruling the coalition government in Maharashtra in grabbing land of farmers and diverting irrigation water to the power plants and sugar mills owned by him in the Vidarbha region, where countless farm debt stricken farmers committed suicide.
Kejriwal in a packed press conference citing the example of one village said: "Gadkari got the water and land meant for the farmers from NCP leaders like Ajit Pawar [who resigned as the deputy chief minister of Maharashtra over the Rs 70,000 crore irrigation scam in the state]. This is not the story of one village, this is the story of entire Maharashtra."
"He [Gadkari] has a setting with the ruling party [NCP] and they tell each other- let both of us earn," said Kejriwal. He said it is a collusion of political interests that cheat the people of India.
He said in the name of farmers after they started committing suicide, funds were sent to Maharashtra from the state and centre and they were looted while water meant for farmers were diverted to big companies, including those owned by Gadkari, and the latter did not protest at all despite being in Opposition in own interest.
Revealing documents gathered by RTI activist Anjali Damania, the social activist turned politician said: "BJP has not raised one question in Maharashtra assembly why water was diverted to big companies instead of farmers."
"Is BJP in opposition or are BJP leaders in bed with ruling parties? Whose interests does Mr Gadkari represent? Is there a conflict between the interests of Maharashtra farmers and Mr Nitin Gadkari's businesses? Is Mr Gadkari's business flourishing in Maharashtra at the cost of dying farmers?" asked Kejriwal.
He said five power plants and three sugar companies of Gadkari benefitted from the water meant for farmers who commit suicide owing to poor monsoon.
He said Gadkari´s business interest is clashing with the interest of farmers of Vidarbha .
"Are the businesses of Gadkari at the cost of the farmers of Vidarbha who are committing suicide?," he asked.
He said activist Anjali Damania, who is a doctor by profession, was startled when despite meeting Gadkari on the irrigation scam, he refused to act and said that he is a friend of Sharad Pawar, who heads the NCP.
"She was completely shocked to hear Gadkari's response. He said - "How could you expect us to speak against Mr Sharad Pawar? Chaar kaam wo hamare karte hain, chaar kaam hum unke karte hain (we work for each other)"
"She came to know about the irrigation scam in Maharashtra and she filed an RTI and found that Rs 70,000 crore was spent but no improvement was done in irrigation," he said.
"When Gadkari refused to act, Damania started investigation and in the past one month what she found is shocking, said Kejriwal.
Kejriwal narrated the story of two families in a village in Nagpur district of Maharashtra.
He narrated the story of one Gajan Ghadge and other farmers in the village of Khursapur whose lands were grabbed and how they were threatened.
"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. 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," informed Kejriwal.
"This was also in violation of rules because land belonging to irrigation department cannot be transferred or leased to private organizations. When farmers protested, they were threatened by Gandkari's henchmen," he said.
"Since Anjali Damania set out on her investigations, Ghadge, the farmer from Umred, is being repeatedly threatened by Gadkari's men. This morning, he called up Anjali and started crying as he could not stand the pressures," said Kejriwal.
"The land here [ in the village of Ghadge] was acquired for an irrigation dam in excess and later given to Gadkari by the VIDC," said Kejriwal.
He said a total of 48 hectares (which is more than 100 acres) was given to Gadkari from this land- first 37 hectares and then 11 hectares meant for a company that was referred by the BJP leader.
He said under law the land cannot be given to Gadkari and has to be returned to the farmers but they were not returned the land and instead they were threatened.
He said in four days Gadkari got a response from Ajit Pawar when he demanded the land while the farmers did not get a response in two years when they asked for return of their land.
"I urge the people of this country to rise, get up and act," said Kejriwal.
"All parties- be in Congress or BJP or Samajwadi Party or DMK or AIADMK or BSP are in league," he said.
"We are ready to face double punishment if you find fault against us, but let three Supreme Court judges probe these allegations we make," he said.
To a question on Salman Khurshid warning Kejriwal against visiting his constituency, Kejriwal said his life is at the hands of god and not someone like Khurshid.
Arvind Kejriwal earlier "exposed" links between Robert Vadra and the Haryana government with documents that "proved" that the state had favoured the realty firm DLF with which Vadra is associated. He said the state government acquired land from farmers by trick to hand over to real-estate bellwether DLF where Vadra held majority shares.
Demanding a white paper on the deals with DLF from the Haryana government, Kejriwal said the farmers were cheated and their land acquired for development of roads and housing for common people were handed over to DLF from where Robert Vadra derived benefits.
The Congress and Vadra himself scrambled to trash the allegations as a "publicity stunt" by Kejriwal who is in the process of launching a political party while the Haryana government and DLF denied charges of any malfeasance separately.
On Oct 5, creating a political firestorm, Arvind Kejriwal and his team first targetted the Congress first family laying before people the undervalued property deals of Robert Vadra with DLF, alleging the latter made hundreds of crores in return of government favours to the firm.
Kejriwal also targetted Salman Khurshid after in a purported expose, a TV news network claimed that Khurshid and his wife Louise Khurshid had siphoned of funds from government grants given to an NGO run by them for disabled people in Uttar Pradesh.
The accusations were used by Kejriwal and his supporters to launch a campaign against the Law Minister and demand his resignation though Khurshid hit back calling the former a guttersnipe and later holding a press conference with his wife to counter the charges.