The farmer named by Arvind Kejrwal in his press conference, who went missing on Thursday, came back to his home on Friday and blamed IAC member Anajli Damania for “all the drama”.
India Against Corruption (IAC) members Arvind Kejriwal and Anjali Damania had named Gajanan Ghatage during their press conference while accusing BJP president Nitin Gadkari of taking agriculture land on lease from farmers without their consent.
“I was near the village only,” he told The Hindu. “I was scared by the entire cavalcade of TV crews that came to my home. I saw them coming and went into hiding,” he added. When asked if he was threatened by anyone, Mr. Ghatage said: “No one threatened me and I went into hiding on my own.”
Holding Ms. Damania responsible for all the “drama”, he said: “I approached her when I saw her on television targeting Gadkari. I told her that my unused land for dam has been leased out to Nitin Gadkari by the irrigation department. But after hearing Gadakri’s name she promised me that she will help me in getting my land back.”
“I have no issues with Nitin Gadkari,” he said, adding: “My land was taken by the Irrigation Department and I have made many applications to them to return back my land. When I told this to Anjali Damania, she used it to play politics .”
He reiterated that he was not threatened or forced to go into hiding and said “I had seen how media men made a bakra of Law Minister Salman Khurshid in his press conference. They could have done the same thing to me. So I decided to go into hiding. I did not go to Delhi in IAC press conference because I had some farm works here.”
On his land issue and the claims made by his elder brother Vishvanath Ghatge, he said, “My brother can have his own views, he may have problem with anybody, but I have no problem with any politician but the power plant in the village has created immense pollution.”
However, according to some villagers, Mr. Ghatage was coerced to change his stand . “He was the one who had resisted forcefully when people from Purti Limited came to acquire his land and now suddenly he is speaking a different line. There is something rotten in all this,” one villager told The Hindu on the condition of anonymity.
Mr. Ghatge demanded that the Irrigation Department should return the unused land acquired for projects and the laws regarding it should be made more “farmer friendly”. When asked how can the Irrigation Department lease out farmers’ lands to Mr. Gadkari’s company, he refused to say anything.
This article as been re-edited for clarity.