“If business ties with Pawar are proved, I am willing to donate my entire property”
Denying business relations with any of the contractors working on dam projects in Maharashtra, Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari on Thursday dismissed Congress allegations against him as “utterly false”.
Mr. Gadkari was alluding to a July 30 letter to Union Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, in which he allegedly asked for release of Rs. 400 crore to contractors hired to complete the Gosikhurd dam project.
“I have demanded money for projects, not for contractors. I will not write one, but five letters to Pawan Kumar Bansal on the Gosikhurd project, as this is an essential project for the suicide-ridden Vidarbha region,” Mr. Gadkari said, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
In the same vein, Mr. Gadkari brushed aside accusations that BJP MP Ajay Sancheti, one of the contractors for the project, had received favourable deals on account of his proximity to him.
“There is not one, but 300 contractors involved in the construction of the Gosikhurd project. Moreover, the contractors were approved before I became party president.”
The cost of the project, meant to irrigate 2.5 lakh hectares, has shot up from Rs. 370 crore to more than Rs. 7,000 crore in the 24 years since its inauguration in 1988 by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Vidarbha had witnessed 10,000 farmer suicides till date. What was wrong in his writing letters and asking for money for the Gosikhurd project as it would only benefit farmers, the BJP president asked.
Blaming the Congress for tardy execution, Mr. Gadkari said it was trying to malign his image by leaking letters instead of paying attention to complete the project.
In another denial, he threw a challenge: “If my business relations with [Nationalist Congress Party leader] Sharad Pawar are proved, I am willing to donate my property and whatever wealth I have to anyone who can prove such links.”
Mr. Gadkari refused to react further to India against Corruption (IAC) activist Anjali Damania’s allegations against him.