Live: Gadkari responds to Kejriwal's accusations

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 17, 2012 14:29 hrs

8.00 pm: More than the allegedly crooked activities of Gadkari's business empire, the most enlightening aspect of today's revelations by Kejriwal was the collusion among parties across the political divide.

There seems to be an omerta followed by all the parties - a sort of unofficial code of conduct by which they turn a blind eye to each other's misconduct.

7:50 pm:
Gadkari said that he was amused at being called a businessman by Kejriwal. But he does head a flourishing group of companies called the Purti Group, which reportedly made a profit of Rs 20 crore in 2010.

The BJP may have sought to shrug off the charges against their party chief. But however hard Gadkari tries to dust his kurta, some of the mud slung by Kejriwal is likely to stick.

7:25 pm:
NDTV's Sunetra choudhury ‏@sunetrac: I agree with @SushmaSwarajbjp: Kejriwal seems to have cried wolf this time.

7:20 pm:
Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley are present to lend Nitin Gadkari verbal and moral support. Sushma says that the BJP's entire cadre and leadership stands in solidarity with Gadkari.

We are happy that our party president has not been found involved in any scam; party is fully with him, she says.

She passes the baton to Jaitley who characterises Kejriwal's press conference as "a failed attempt to bring a moral equivalence between the Congress and the BJP."

"They made a mountain out of what was not even a molehill," adds Jaitley.

7:10 pm:
NDTV's Barkha Dutt ‏@BDUTT tweets - BJP says Kejriwal charges re Gadkari aim to defame party. Congress says same on Vadra. Now that shoe pinching both, who walks the talk ahead.

7:00 pm:
Gadkari's response to the Kejriwal accusations at his press conference - I am no businessman, but only a social activist trying to ensure social upliftment through my various firms.

"I have written a book on irrigation and have campaigned to help get water to farmers' lands. Only 0.8% of the water from the dam (the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam in Umred taluk) is used in my factory," he says in his defence.

6:45 pm:
A couple of tweets centering around the delayed Gadkari press conference to lighten the mood before the BJP president appears.

Ramesh Srivats ‏@rameshsrivats - Right now, Gadkari is in front of a mirror, saying the words, "These allegations are baseless", with various expressions & intonations.

Faking News ‏@fakingnews - If Nitin Gadkari has stopped laughing, he should start his press conference now.

6:40 pm:
Gadkari's first defence - "The land (100 acres) is being used for the benefit of farmers alone. On this land I have enlisted 15,000 sugarcane farmers."

6:30 pm:
Hindustan Times columnist Madhavan Narayanan ‏@madversity tweets his verdict - I think the Gadkari expose is like Barfi. Not sure of winning Oscar but the market will love it.

6:15 pm:
CNN-IBN's chief political correspondent Bhupendra chaubey‏@bhupendrachaube tweets: Latest expose of Kejriwal nothing in comparison to robertgate. This is a matter of propriety, not illegality.

CNN-IBN chief editor Rajdeep Sardesai‏@sardesairajdeep tweets - What is clear after today is Arvind can no longer be called the BJP's B team. That ghost has been buried. RIP.

6:05 pm:
Kejriwal Act II is over. The BJP top brass is currently in the midst of a crisis meeting at the residence of the embattled Gadkari. The BJP chief is now expected to address the media shortly to rebut Kejriwal's allegations.

6:00 pm:
Noted right-wing journalist and columnist Swapan Dasgupta‏@swapan55 gives this verdict on Kejriwal's second expose: Apart from collusion in getting 100 acres surplus land from the Maharashtra government, there wasn't much of an indictment of Gadkari. It was more a criticism of government priorities. More of a presser on collusive politics, flawed development strategies and the need to choose other alternatives. More a discourse than expose. However there is a political fallout of the charges. Does Gadkari emerge as man more concerned with business interests?

Smita Prakash ‏@smitaprakash - Oh okay. Kejriwal thinks God has sent him on a mission to India. That is so George W Bush.

Vijay ‏@centerofright -  - Nitin Gadkari's business group - Purti Group - tag Line - "National Progress Through Rural progress":)

5:55 pm:
Kejriwal says that a massive 48 hectares - more than 100 acres - was given to Gadkari. Under the law this land could not have been allotted to the BJP supremo. He also reiterates the link between the water being diverted to the Gadkari empire and the farmer suicides in Maharashtra.

We are not making any demands to the government, says Kejriwal. He says that his words are directed at the people of the country to please rise against the corrupt political class.

"We are not going to the courts - our goal is not to put one man in jail. We cannot do all the work ourselves," he tells the assembled media. "We will do some, you will do some, and the people of this country will do some of it."

5:52 pm:
Kejriwal says Sharad Pawar, Robert Vadra, Ajit Pawar, Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati, Nitin Gadkari, are all members of the same family - They believe in looting the public.

5:50 pm: On Twitter, Ramesh Srivats ‏@rameshsrivats has this to say - Arvind Kejriwal targets Nitin Gadkari in the irrigation scam. It's called the Loot Canal Treatment.

Pritish Nandy ‏@PritishNandy - Nitin Gadkari now sweating? @ArvindKejriwal7 has asked the right question: Is Gadkari a politician or a greedy, corrupt businessman?

5:42 pm:
Now it's Prashant Bhushan's turn to stick the knife into Gadkari.

He is explaining the modus operandi - how Gadkari has hoodwinked the farmers of the state and made a handsome profit in the bargain.

Bhushan also grabs the opportunity to make a dig at the Congress, referring to Salman Khurshid's shocking statement on Arvind Kejriwal that "it's time to replace ink with blood" to illustrate the deep moral crisis affecting the Indian body politic.

5:40 pm:
"Despite requests from farmers, excess land (100 acres) was also given (by the Maharashtra government) to Gadkari," Kejriwal says.

Water from the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam in Umred taluka meant to provide irrigation water to these farmers was also  diverted for use by Nitin Gadkari's firms and other industries there.

"Instead of water being used to irrigate farms, it was being used by Mr Gadkari's factories," Kejriwal says, "and the waste from his factories is polluting the rivers."

This at a time when a large number of farmers in the region were committing suicides, he says, before ceding the floor to Anjali Damania who holds aloft a map of Vidarbha to elaborate on Gadkari's alleged scam at the expense of farmers.

5:35 pm: "When land was being sold out to favorite industrialists, why was Nitin Gadkari silent?" Kejriwal asks.

"Thirty-three new coal based thermal power projects have been given approval as of 2010 and another 38 are pending approval. When these 71 plants come up, they will need 2049 million cubic meters of water per year due to which there will be not a drop of water for irrigation in a region where farmers commit suicide every day," he adds .

The simple reason: Gadkari himself has five power plants and three sugar mills in Maharashtra. So he can't speak up against the irrigation scam.

5:30 pm:
Water from dam was diverted for Gadkari's business

5:26 pm: Kejriwal says that Anjali Damania who exposed the irrigation scam in Maharashtra met Nitin Gadkari on August 14 this year and asked him to bring the irrigation scam out into the open.

But Gadkari's response - "How could you expect us to speak against Mr Sharad Pawar? Chaar kaam wo hamare karte hain, chaar kaam hum unke karte hain (They do our jobs for us, we do their jobs for them)" - shocked her.

Kejriwal alleges that the tentacles of Gadkari's business empire extend far and wide to sugar, coal, power and distilleries... - all at the cost of the impoverished farmers of Vidarbha.

5:17 pm:
Ajit Pawar gave special treatment to Gadkari, Kejriwal alleges. "Gadkari said I'm on great terms with Sharad Pawar," he states.

The dam, which Gadkari lobbied for, was built for irrigation but not a single drop has been used for that purpose - it has instead been appropriated by Nitin Gadkari's business empire, he goes on to add.

5:13 pm: It's indeed Gadkari that Kejriwal is targetting. Gadkari's letter lobbying for contractors building a mega-dam project in Maharashtra asking for Rs 400 crore to be released to contractors hired for Gosikhurd dam in Vidarbha has already seen him come under attack on October 5.

Gadkari has built a huge business empire in a short period with more than 15 companies, Kejriwal says.

5.03 pm: 

Kejriwal expected to target BJP President Nitin Gadkari in expose. He begins by stating that Gadkari has huge business interests and in Vidarbha and Maharashtra. Are these interests being furthered at the expense of farmers, Kejriwal asks. He also hints at nexus between the opposition BJP and the Congress. And moves on to the Rs 70000-crore irrigation scam in Maharashtra that led to Maharasthra Deputy CM Ajit Pawar's resignation.

4.30 pm:

National anthem used to promote TV show, Centre asked to act

The Centre was today asked by the Delhi High Court to take action against a leading television channel for allegedly misusing the national anthem in various cinema halls for "commercial" promotion of its popular reality show Big Boss 6.

A bench of Chief Justice D Murugesan and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw asked the Centre to take action within a week on a plea which accused television channel Colours of misusing the national anthem and "hurting the sentiments of citizens of India."

"In the wake of serious allegations levelled by the petitioner that the national anthem is disrespected, we direct the Central government to treat this PIL as representation and the grievances will be dealt with in accordance with the law. Necessary action would be taken by the concerned ministry against the respondents within a week," said the bench.

The PIL had been filed by advocate Jeetender Gupta who accused the TV channel Colours of misusing the national anthem to promote 'Big Boss 6' in various city multiplexes and movie halls in other parts of the country.

Gupta's petition explained to the court that during screening of movies, theatres and multiplexes randomly display an advertisement of TV show Big Boss 6, followed by an announcement for the audiences that "the Big Boss wants you all to stand up" as the national anthem is to be played.

Additional Solicitor General Rajeev Mehra, appearing for the Centre told the court that he will inform the concerned ministry for necessary steps to stop such advertisement.

The petitioner said he had gone to watch movies in two cinema halls at different times and found the same advertisement issued by the TV channel in both the theatres. 


Arvind Kejriwal has said that it was not right for the law minister of the country to use such language against him. Earlier,  Union law minister Salman Khurshid had threatened Kejriwal saying, "It's time to replace ink with blood"

'Mr Salman Khurshid has threatened me. Killing me won't help. Rather than threatening like this, it wud be better that Congress sensed the anger of people and took some concrete steps against corruption,' tweeted Kejriwal.

He also said he will go to Khurshid's constituency as his life was not in the law minister's hands.


The IAC has hit out at Khurshid for his comments against Kejriwal. 'He should not be given the position of law minister,' said Kumar Vishwas.


Union law minister Salman Khurshid has threatened Arvind Kejriwal saying, "It's time to replace ink with blood. Kejriwal can come to Farrukhabad (Khurshid's constituency) but how will he leave?"


'Vikram Pandit forced out as Citigroup chief'

Citigroup's India-born chief Vikram Pandit, who has made a sudden exit, was forced to leave the banking behemoth following differences with the board over strategy and overall business performance, media reports said.

Pandit, who steered the crisis-hit Citigroup into profitability, resigned abruptly on Tuesday -- a development that took the Wall Street by surprise.

According to media reports, Pandit's exit came in the wake of differences with the board.

"Pandit's resignation came after a series of missteps this year left some directors feeling that the company wasn't being managed effectively and that the board wasn't kept adequately informed," the Wall Street Journal said quoting sources.

In a similar tone, the Financial Times said that Pandit left Citigroup after a clash with the board over a series of recent missteps by the bank.

Citing sources, FT said the underlying issues behind Pandit's exit include "Citi's failure to pass Federal Reserve stress tests earlier this year, a defeat on a 'say-on-pay' vote by shareholders and the handling of the sale of the bank's stake in Smith Barney, the retail brokerage, to Morgan Stanley."

In an abrupt exit, Pandit resigned after nearly a five-year tenure during which he steered the third-biggest US bank through difficult years after the 2008 financial crisis.

"The action raises questions about whether the sprawling Citigroup empire ultimately will be dramatically pared back or broken up, something Pandit opposed," the WSJ said.


Formula 1 equipment arrives in New Delhi

The juggernaut that is Formula 1 is always on the move. And it has started rolling into India.

News has it that the first lot of F1 pallets have arrived at the Delhi international airport. 37 of them comprising communication equipment and weighing roughly around 115 tonnes,  have made its way to the Buddh International Circuit.

Five more such shipments are expected to arrive on October 18.

1.30 pm:

Kareena Kapoor married to Sajid Ali Khan!

Before you think 'scandal', reportedly Sajid Ali Khan is Saif's official name! When the actor applied for the marriage license, he reportedly did so under the name Sajid.

And so when Kareena said 'I do' at Saif Ali Khan's Bandra house on October 16, she said it to 'Sajid'.

But hey, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet!


Rahul Gandhi meets PM amid talk of Cabinet reshuffle

Rahul Gandhi meets Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence. This meeting takes on special significance as a cabinet reshuffle is said to be on the cards. The Prime Minister is said to be keen on Rahul taking on a bigger role in the government according to media reports.


20th rape case in Haryana in five weeks

In yet another incident of misdemeanor against the feminine gender in Haryana, a 30-year-old married woman was allegedly raped in Lakhan Majra village under Meham sub-division in Rohtak.

The crime was committed on the night of October 13, but the victim lodged a complaint with the police in this regard yesterday.

According to reports, the alleged rapists are close relatives of the victim's husband.

Read more


Rajinikanth makes a guest appearance at FICCI

Superstar Rajinikanth made a guest appearance at the FICCI Film and Media conclave going on in Chennai helmed by his good friend Kamal Hassan.

He appeared for a fleeting moment wished the chief guests and then disappeared.

But even as the press and delegates were in a tizzy with expectations about his presence, the superstar made a quick beeline to the special area and met the special guests gathered there.

They included legends  like K Balachandar, Malayalam actor Madhu, Girish Karnad, Jayanthi, Sukumari, Barrie Osborne and others who had gathered to be felicitated at the event.

Rajini spent some moments with them and soon left the venue, and immediately left the venue.


The French diplomat, Pascal Mazurier, accused of raping his 4 year old daughter has been granted bail.


Round 2 goes to Obama; slams Romney's outsourcing plans

A combative Barack Obama today hit back at Mitt Romney, retrieving lost ground in the second of the three high-stake presidential debates, saying his Republican rival's plans on outsourcing will only result in more jobs in China and India.

Obama, who drew flak from his own party for a lacklustre performance in round one two weeks ago, this time often dictated the terms of the debate questioning Romney's approaches towards China, immigration, taxes, unemployment, gun laws and other domestic and foreign issues.

During the 90-minute face-off at the Hofstra University here for a town hall style debate, Romney retorted claiming US has been losing manufacturing jobs to China as enterprises feel it is "more attractive" to go offshore than to stay here.

Read more


Three kids die as Costa Rican boat capsizes

hree children died when the boat they were in capsized Tuesday on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, officials said.

The incident happened where the Damas river empties into the Pacific Ocean in Puntarenas province, some 160 km south of San Jose.

It may have been caused by the powerful currents in the area, Deputy Security Minister Celso Gamboa told reporters.

The boat was on a fishing trip and had nine people aboard - five adults and four children.

One of the children was rescued by the coast guard and officials confirmed that the bodies of the other three children have been recovered.

None of the people in the boat was wearing a life jacket, Gamboa said.


Voters get their turn to ask the presidential debate questions

They ranged from a 20-year-old student to a mother of college-aged children. And they were anxious about jobs, gas prices and fixing the nation's broken immigration system.

These were the chosen ones, undecided voters picked to ask questions of President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in their second debate. Most in the 82-person crowd live near the debate site at Hofstra University, in reliably Democratic New York. Each summited a question to moderator Candy Crowley, who got the final say on which inquiries made the final cut.

"What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?" asked Jeremy Epstein, a college student and the first questioner.

Read more


Delhi, Mumbai airport fee to be dropped

The controversial airport fee at New Delhi and Mumbai airports will be quashed from January 2013, the Indian government said on Tuesday, bringing relief to air travelers.

Domestic fliers pay Rs 200 at Delhi, and Rs 100 at Mumbai while international passengers are charged Rs 1300 in Delhi and Rs 600 in Mumbai.

Read more


Obama comes out more aggressive in second debate

Obama was seen as having missed opportunities to make gains in the first debate with Romney two weeks ago. Romney was viewed as having won the debate.

Obama also says Romney's plan is to let the oil companies write the energy policies.

At least twice Obama has accused Romney of being untruthful. And he's addressed Romney directly, unlike their first debate in Denver, when Obama primarily addressed the moderator, while Romney criticized the president.


Aggressive Obama; Romney gives a good as he gets

An aggressive President Barack Obama accused challenger Mitt Romney of favoring a "one-point plan" to help the rich and leveling offensive criticism about the recent deadly terrorist attack in Libya Tuesday night in a debate crackling with energy and emotion just three weeks before the election.

Romney pushed back hard, saying the middle class "has been crushed over the last four years," that 23 million Americans are struggling to find work and that the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya was part of an unraveling of the administration's foreign policy.

The president was feistier from the outset than he had been in their initial encounter two weeks ago, when he turned in a listless performance that sent shudders through his supporters and helped fuel a rise by Romney in opinion polls nationally and in some battleground states.

Read more


Romney, Obama joust over tax plans and debt

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama both say their tax plans would benefit the middle class and spur job creation, and both are suggesting their opponent's plan would do the opposite.

Romney says cutting tax rates across the board would spur job growth. He says bringing rates down makes it easy for small businesses to keep more of their capital and hire more workers.

But Obama, who supports raising tax rates on upper incomes, says Romney's proposed tax cuts and his calls for increased military spending would add trillions to the federal debt.

Obama said to Romney, a former businessman, quote, "You wouldn't have taken such a sketchy deal."

He says the American people shouldn't accept that deal either.

7.30 am:

Good Morning!

Our amazingly bad performance in the Champions League continues with the South African Lions beating the Chennai Super Kings yesterday, so there continues to be nothing positive to look forward to that series.

But politics is heating up nicely. We are apparently living in the age of exposes and in a spirited attempt to prove that he is not the B-team of the BJP, Arvind Kejriwal has promised a press conference on BJP president Nitin Gadkari. The press conference is at 5 pm and something to look forward to.

The mess surrounding DLF and Vadra continues to get thicker with reports coming out that Rahul Gandhi also bought land in Haryana along with his brother-in-law.

Meanwhile the transfer of the IAS officer who ordered a probe into Vadra's shady dealings continues to spin out of control with the Congress putting up its most arrogant performance yet and the opposition having a field day.

Meanwhile the people are left sympathizing with the officer who suffered 43 transfers in 20 years and fuming at Haryana politics.

Keep an eye out for updates on all this and more right here!

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