Nitin Gadkari survives BJP test

Last Updated: Sat, Oct 27, 2012 07:12 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 27 (IBNS) After a meeting of the core group of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday, the party decided to back its corruption charged president Nitin Gadkari, as the Maharashtra leader survived as the chief in the outfit though nailed in media for his business dealings.

"We stand by our party president. All speculation of him resigning is all wrong," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said late Friday night.

He said "the party is unanimous in backing him" and rubbished all speculations of Gadkari stepping down as untrue and baseless.

Gadkari has been accused of using shell companies to fund his business and of receiving investments from contractors in Maharashtra.

On Friday, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS also made its position clear on Gadkari as it chose to distance itself from him while also holding that the leader has been facing the allegations in media and has not been investigated by any competent authority.

In an emailed statement on Gadkari, RSS said "it has been an article of faith with the RSS that any individual or organization in any illegal activity must be subjected to impartial probe."

"We are saddened with efforts to drag the RSS name into these allegations," it said.

"Everyone in the country knows that Sangh has nothing to do with these allegations," RSS said.

It also said that several allegations were levelled by media and they are yet to be investigated by authorised agency.

RSS said fight against corruption should be held at non-political and non-partisan level.

Earlier, senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh defended Gadkari and said as the party president was not sitting on a ´government post´ so his case was different.

"He has clearly said that he is ready to get probed. I feel that it is a very brave step," Singh told media.

Singh said the Congress could direct all the investigative agencies to investigate against Gadkari.

Union Home Minister and Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde said there is ´some substance´ in the allegations levelled against BJP president Nitin Gadkari.

"Whatever things are coming up, media is showing them on the TV. It seems that there is some substance in it (charges)," Shinde told reporters.

Meanwhile, social activist turned politician Arvind Kejriwal on Friday attacked the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and termed the Income Tax (I-T) Department's probe against Gadkari as an ´eyewash´.

"Co Affairs, IT Dept probing Gadkari? Govt - IT det wud submit report in a month. IT Act has no provision for such a probe. Govt fooling ppl? Under IT Act - u can raid (sec 132) or survey (sec 133A) or scrutinize (sec 143) - wat is govt doing?" Kejriwal tweeted.

"Will IT find anything if it raids or surveys? Raids conducted in secrecy. This is how CBI conducts raids after grand announcements," he said.

Calling the Congress and the BJP as ´bhai bhai´ (brothers), Kejriwal posted on Twitter: "Are all these probes merely an eyewash? Time will tell. It wud further prove - Cong BJP bhai bhai."

A probe into the business of Gadkari is being conducted by the Registrar of Companies in Mumbai and Nagpur where the Purti group of companies are based and registered.

Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily earlier said the Registrar of Companies (RoC) has been asked to send a report on the alleged source of funding of the Purti group of industries, set up by Gadkari in 2001.

Meanwhile, media investigations have revealed that close aides of Gadkari, including his driver, were directors in the companies that funded his Purti group.

A CNN IBN report on Friday said: "Four of Gadkari´s very close aides, including his former driver and accountant, have been directors in at least 26 companies and that too within a period of the past four years."

The BJP leader´s former driver Manohar Panse was a director in 11 companies between 2009 and 2011, the channel reported.

According to an NDTV report, a company called Regency Equifin Private Limited is one company that bought among others the Purti group in 2007 by paying Rs 4.3 crore, but a year later it started borrowing from Gadkari and Puri group.

Gadkari´s accountant Kawu Zade is one of the directors of Regency Equifin Pvt Ltd which reports said bought over Rs 4 crore shares in Purti Group in 2007-8 and then got Rs 26 lakh unsecured loan from Gadkari.

It also took Rs 95 lakh from Puri group in 2011, according to balance sheet, media reports said.

Gadkari had last year quit as chairman of Purti and now owns only 200 shares in the company, reports said.

Gadkari earlier refuted the charges of using shell companies to fund his business and of receiving investments from contractors in Maharashtra.

Political opponents of the BJP chief had alleged that Gadkari´s Purti group of companies accepted loans and investments from DP Mhaiskar, the founder of the Ideal Road Builders, which are quid pro quo.

Gadkari, denying the charges, told NDTV that he has not done any favours to Ideal Road Builders.

He said, "I can accept equity from anyone, there is nothing wrong. I am friends with Mr Mhaiskar and many contractors are my friends. Purti has losses of Rs 64 crores, Mhaiskar loaned me Rs 165 crores from his company, and I have repaid him Rs 64 crores."

The news channel had earlier reported that the companies that are named as the investors of Gadkari´s company apparently did not exist.

Arvind Kejriwal accused Gadkari of having ties with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra to boost his business interests in Vidarbha region at the cost of poor farmers.

Gadkari opposing the charges said, this is an effort to politically malign him.

He said that his efforts were focused on helping farmers in Vidarbha.

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