BJP Leaders Support Gadkari As Congress Goes On The Offensive
New Delhi: The political row over alleged wrongdoings in business dealings by BJP chief Nitin Gadkari continued Wednesday with senior party leaders L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj backing his stand in asking for a probe and the Congress retorting that it was not enough.
The Congress sought that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief answer the charges against him and claimed the allegations were the result of the BJP’s internal fights.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, meanwhile, said in Nagpur that the allegations against Gadkari were a “matter of the party”.
In a statement, Advani termed Gadkari’s asking for a probe by the department of company affairs as a “fair and proper response” and also sought to point out that the allegations against the BJP chief were “about standards of business and not misuse of power or corruption”.
Sushma Swaraj said it was “unjust” and “unfair” to accept allegations against Gadkari without a probe. She also said that the BJP members “trust” Gadkari and “stand firmly behind him”.
On the other hand, the Congress went on the offensive. “It is a serious matter. The BJP should clarify as another former president, Bangaru Laxman, had also faced corruption charges,” said Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi, while his colleague Sandeep Dikshit said: “Mere asking for a probe is not enough.”
Another spokesman Manish Tewari said the episode reflected the party’s rifts. “The charges are the result of BJP’s internal fight,” he said.
Advani hoped the government inquiry, announced Tuesday by Corporate Affairs Minister M. Veerappa Moily, would be “fair” and uncoloured by its “political hostility” to the BJP. He said the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) “is trying to work a strategy to paint the entire political class with the same brush to minimise and escape its unpardonable sins”.
Advani urged the BJP to “be different and should not claim immunity on either scale or nature of the allegations”.
India Against Corruption (IAC) member Arvind Kejriwal had first levelled allegations against the BJP chief last Wednesday, related to land deals in Maharashtra. The latest allegations against Gadkari are about improper business dealings as chairman of the Purti group.
Media reports Tuesday said an infrastructure company IRB gave a Gadkari-owned company a loan of Rs.165 crore, two years after the IRB was awarded road contracts by Gadkari when he was the Maharashtra PWD minister.
The reports also said the addresses of some of the companies that had invested in Gadkari’s company appeared to be dubious.
The BJP had said any competent authority could probe the charges, and the Congress seized on the statement. “It is good that, for the first time, the opposition is saying that government probe agencies are competent enough to probe into the matter,” said Dikshit.
However, Dikshit said no probe against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, who has been accused of corruption in land deals in Haryana involving realty major DLF, was needed as nothing has been established against him. “There was nothing illegal in the allotment of land to DLF by the Haryana government nor did it cause any public loss,” said Dikshit, claiming: “It is a frivolous allegation made by a few persons without any substantive facts.”
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