New Delhi, Oct.17 (ANI): Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said that the party and its cadres are firmly behind their president Nitin Gadkari, and would support and defend him against all charges or allegations related to the irrigation scam in Maharashtra.
Addressing a news conference in the nationcal capital this evening, both Swaraj and Jaitley criticised the Arvind Kejriwal-led India Against Corruption for falsely accusing Gadkari of encroaching upon farmers land in Maharashtra.
Swaraj said that the statements made by Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and Anjali Damania were not all substantive and in no way established Mr. Gadkari’s collusion in the scam that has rocked the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party coalition government in Maharashtra.
Swaraj said that the outcome of the IAC press conference had clearly established that Gadkari was clean and innocent.
“The (BJP) cadre, the party is behind him,” she added.
Jaitley said: “Today’s (IAC) press conference is a failed attempt to bring moral equivalence between the BJP and the Congress”.
Accusing the IAC of wanting to stay in limelight, Jaitley said: “Even after digging deep, we have not been able to understand what the allegations (against Gadkari) are”.
“They have created a mountain of what was not even a molehill,” he added.
Jaitley said that Kejriwal and the IAC had damaged the credibility of all civil society organisations in the country.
Earlier, Gadkari strongly countered all allegations and charges levelled against him on Wednesday by Team Kejriwal during a media conference at the Constitution Club here on Wednesday afternoon.
He said the charges were absolutely baseless and without foundation.
Responding to the allegations made by India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal and his associates in the context of an irrigation scam and land grabbing in the state of Maharashtra, Gadkari said: “Charges against me are baseless. These allegations made were a conspiracy hatched by the Congress.”
Gadkari, who presented documents as proof of his credibility and his innocence at a press conference here, further said: “I work only for the betterment of the poor. The land was used for the benefit of farmers, I have done nothing wrong.”
“I can’t respond to such innocous charges , but I am ready for any kind of investigation,” said Gadkari.
The Congress Party, however, said that Gadkari should be removed as BJP president and prosecuted for misusing his position for personal gain.
“The BJP used to celebrate when they (IAC) made allegations against us (Congress), now its their time to clarify things,” said Congress Party spokesman Rashid Alvi.
Team Kejriwal had earlier in the afternoon charged Nitin Gadkari of having a huge business empire in Maharashtra, and alleged that the former and NCP leader Ajit Pawar were hand-in-glove with each other in the irrigation scam.
Kejriwal accused Gadkari of corruption and claimed that his businesses are flourishing at the cost of farmers.
“Nitin Gadkari has a huge business empire in Maharashtra. We want to know if his interests as a businessman are clashing with that of the farmers. Gadkari and Ajit Pawar are working in tandem. Gadkari’s business interests clash with Vidharba farmers,” Kejriwal told mediapersons at the Constitution Club here.
“Ajit Pawar has diverted irrigation water to power industry. Gadkari was given 100 hectares of farmers’ land at behest of Ajit Pawar. The land given to Gadkari in Vibhadra is in violation of government order,” he added.
Kejriwal further said that Gadkari’s business interest clashed with Vidharba farmers.
“100 hectares of farmers land given to Gadkari’s Purti Power and Sugar Industries Ltd. Gadkari placed business interests over farmers’ well being. Gadkari’s business interests also led to farmers’ suicides. The land was snatched from farmers and given to Gadkari,” said Kejriwal
“Maharashtra irrigation scam is worth Rs. 70 crores. Rs. 70 crores was spent, but nothing was spent on farmers. There is NCP-BJP nexus in irrigation scam in Maharashtra. Gadkari has five power and three sugar firms in Maharashtra,” he added.
Kejriwal further alleged that Gadkari’s firms used all water from the Vadgaon dam.
“The dam water was used for irrigating Gadkari’s industries, not for irrigation,” he added, while emphasizing that no action has been taken on complaint that Gadkari’s firms polluted water.
Mumbai-based activist Anjali Damania , who was also present along with other India Against Corruption activists including Prashant Bhushan and Kumar Vishwas, alleged that Gadkari was using his power as BJP chief to further his own business interests.
Damania had earlier confirmed that Gadkari would be the next person to be exposed before the public.
Reiterating her allegations on Gadkari, Damania said that Gadkari should have done something when she approached him regarding the Maharashtra irrigation scam.
“Gadkari’s name cropped up twice earlier. He is linked to the coalgate in some or the other way and then he refused to help expose the irrigation scam (in Maharashtra). Being the President of the opposition party, it is his responsibility to expose the scam,” Damania said.
“And why he does not want to do it, we would be bringing this forward. We would be exposing why Nitin Gadkari’s doesn’t say anything,” she added.
Damania alleged that the scams are taking place because all the political parties are linked to them.
“The opposition parties do not want to expose it because all of them (all parties) are together. And this is what that we would be exposing in tomorrow’s press conference,” she said.
India Against Corruption had earlier exposed Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid. (ANI)