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Mirajuddin Patel rebuts Bommai's charge

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, JULY 1. The Minister for Animal Husbandry Wakf, Mirajuddin Patel, on Thursday termed the allegations made against him by the Janata Dal (U) leader and MLC, Basavaraj Bommai, as baseless and politically motivated.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Bommai had demanded the resignation of Mr. Patel on the ground that a bailable warrant had been issued against him for allegedly cheating the Bidar District Co-operative Central Bank to the tune of over Rs. 5 crore.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Patel said he had obtained the loan from the bank to set up a sugar mill in Bidar. He had not been able to repay the loan as the mill had not become operational and it was in the process of being commissioned. "I will repay the loan after another bank takes over the loan," He had not cheated any bank and allegations made against him were far from the truth, the Minister said.

On the reported non-payment of money to the Secunderabad-based steel merchant, Lakshminarayana Agarwal, Mr. Patel said the merchant had supplied inferior quality steel. The issue was before the court and he would fight the case legally. The dispute was between him and the bank and the case did not concern any individual, the Minister said.

Mr. Bommai was jealous of him becoming the Minister in the coalition Government, Mr. Patel said and ruled out his resignation.

Speaking to presspersons, Mr. Bommai urged the Chief Minister, N. Dharam Singh, to drop Mr. Patel, who belongs to the Janata Dal (Secular) from the Council of Ministers, if he did not resign on moral grounds.

Mr. Bommai, who showed copies of some documents to the media, said Mr. Patel as chairman of the Bidar Kisan Shakkar Karkhana (BKSK) Ltd., had borrowed Rs. 5 crore from the bank on April 22, 2000. Later, the bank released Rs. 60 lakh as a second instalment loan. The bank released both loans without any security, Mr. Bommai said.

After obtaining loans of Rs. 5.60 crore from the bank, Mr. Patel bought steel material worth Rs. 1.20 crore from Mr. Agarwal to build a sugar factory. The Minister issued two cheques to the merchant which bounced.

On non-receipt of money from Mr. Patel, Mr. Agarwal filed a complaint at the Humnabad police station. Based on the complaint, the police filed a chargesheet against the Minister on January 6, 2004, and the trial was on, Mr. Bommai said.

On many occasions, the bank issued notices to Mr. Patel asking him to repay the loan. When he continued to ignore the bank notices, the Joint Director of Co-operative Societies issued an order on January 20, 2003, to attach the movable property of the sugar factory, Mr. Bommai said.

The Minister filed an application in the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal (KAT) praying it to stay the order issued by the Joint Director of the Cooperative Societies. Subsequently, on March 8, 2004, the KAT issued an order staying the attachment of the properties of the sugar factory with which the Minister was connected, Mr. Bommai said.

Mr. Patel was facing trial in the court. If Mr. Dharam Singh did not drop the "tainted" Minister, the Janata Dal (S) President and former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, should ask Mr. Patel to step down from office. If he still continued to be Minister, then it was a clear indication that the Janata Dal (S) was compromising with the Congress on the issue of corruption, Mr. Bommai said.

The Janata Dal (U) also demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the co-operative bank affair.

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