The very famous dialogue from Hamlet “To be, or not to be, that is the question”, a play written by none other than the world’s most celebrated playwright – Shakespeare – applies very well for Nitin Gadkari’s current situation.
The leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party has allegedly been using his power and position as a politician to push his business and earn money for himself. That is the crime has been accused of.
It is complicated to understand what exactly he did since he has been accused of being a part of two different scams which are interconnected but do not seem so at first sight.
For ease of understanding, let us divide them into “Part I” and “Part II”.
Anjali Damiana, a member of the India Against Corruption movement (a movement founded to realise the Jan Lokpal Bill) has unveiled Gadkari’s ostensible dirty little secret. On one hand, the BJP is put in a sticky situation and on the other; Arvind Kejriwal has another sensational win-win scenario to gloat about.
A farmer sells,
His land to the state,
Oh what a fool he was he,
Realizes too la-ate!
A farmer’s hell,
So he takes to the knife,
Tormented he dies,
His family cries,
But for the rich it’s a good life!
I’ll say it even though it’s the most overused cliché in the history of Indian political articles; the party that suffers the most through no fault of its own is the aam aadmi. We all know very well how the impact of any act of corruption affects the family that has suffered and possibly lost its means of getting daily meals.
You wonder; what happened THIS time?
Without further delay, let me briefly walk you through the accusations thrown up in Mr. Gadkari’s face.
The Maharashtra government acquired farmers’ land in a village to construct dams and it turned out to be in excess of the requirements. Ajit Pawar, the then irrigation minister handed the excess land over to Nitin Gadkari’s organizations. This flouts two rules, (a) Excess land should either be returned to farmers or leased out to them for farming and (b) Land belonging to the irrigation department cannot be transferred or leased to private organizations.
The dams constructed were to be used to provide water to farmers in the region for irrigation purposes. Instead, they have been diverted for use to the power and sugar industry. The example cited was of Umred taluka, where the Lower Vena Vadgaon Dam was supposed to provide water for irrigation to farmers but instead had been allocated to industries in that area, including Nitin Gadkari’s. He has five power producing industries and three sugar industries in Maharashtra, and they all require water. The other side effects they bring, like pollution and shortage of water is a different story altogether.
However, we must remember that he is not the only one. Other influential people own such industries too, and their power grants them political connections, because of which nobody speaks up. After all, everyone makes some profit, so why would anybody say anything?
He himself indirectly confirmed this assumption too. When Mrs. Damania approached Mr. Gadkari to take up the issue, his response was, “How could you expect us to speak against Mr. Sharad Pawar? Chaar kaam woh hamare karte hain, chaar kaam hum unke karte hain,” (he helps us out and we help him out).
Am I the only one who believes that the assumption is not unfair? Alas, in cases like these, a politician’s reputation only gets tainted, but a farmer who has his land annexed and water source taken away and polluted loses his means of livelihood. His family suffers along with him. Food production decreases, prices inflate, the economy goes down and basic daily needs are out of reach for the pocket of a poor person.
Hunger. Starvation. Death.
All because someone who already had plenty was greedy enough to want more.
Arvind Kejriwal has also alleged that Gadkari’s Purti group has been indulging in fraudulent means to build a fortune.
Very smartly, he created shell companies registered in the names of his driver Manohar Panse, diwan Kawdu Zade and Purti staffers Sagar Kotwaliwale and Nishant Agnihotri amongst others.
The total share capital of Purti Power and Sugar Limited is 68 crore rupees. Almost 50 crore rupees comes from about 18 such companies. In other words, these companies own 70 per cent of Purti.
Except, these companies do not exist.
Think about it. A driver as a CEO. Really?
Logically speaking, whenever people invest in the shares of any of the shell companies, the money will go to Mr. Gadkari. However, logic and assumption is no substitute for proof.
So we go down to the addresses of these companies.
Investigations by reporters from the Times of India and NDTV reveal that most of these companies were registered in false addresses, rendering them non-existent. Many of these led to houses or slums or offices where people hastily removed all signs of fraud when reporters turned away and did not even allow them to click pictures.
Basically, these “mystery companies” turn out to be nonexistent.
The implications of this are pretty cruel for those who invested in these shell companies. Imagine having a plant in a cracked pot. You keep watering it, expecting it to grow, but you never realize that the water keeps leaking off the sides until one day, it dies.
That’s what happened to every person who invested in the shell companies of the Purti group. They were investing into something that never existed, expecting returns, but alas, their hard earned money was passing elsewhere – quite possibly into Nitin Gadkari’s pocket.
When we learn about cases of cheating such as these, it isn’t hard to understand why exactly our country is undergoing financial issues. Aise logon ki data deni padegi.
For all these reasons, members of the BJP such as Jagadish Shettigar, Ram Jethmalani and his son Mahesh Jethmalani want Nitin Gadkari to step down from his post as the leader as he is damaging the reputation of the party. However, others such as Prabhat Jha, Sushma Swaraj and Uma Bharti support him, arguing that there was no concrete evidence to support these allegations.
That being said, there is enough matter to propagate the launch of an investigation for a corporate fraud by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, and leaders of opposition parties such as Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh recommend taking this course of action. Gadkari response to Singh was that he was open to investigation and challenged him to first investigate Robert Vadra.
We can easily expect opposition parties to lap up the opportunity to disgrace and defile the reputation of their main opponents when their acts of corruption come out, but it is important to remember that Nitin Gadkari isn’t the sole person in our country who’s been part of such scams.
We need to remember that we aren’t just trying to remove one single man off his seat; we’re trying to eradicate corruption from our country. Don’t let yourself be led away by what a politician says about his fellow contestant, try to use your head to determine what is right and what is wrong.
In the end, it’s your choice whether you believe Gadkari to be innocent until proven guilty as our Constitution states, or to conclude using the facts available that he is one of the many who are guilty of the downfall of the country due to their own selfishness.
I only feel pitiful for the farmers who were so terrified at being responsible for mouths to feed and not having any better solution than killing themselves, and those who unknowingly lost their hard earned money expecting to gain profits. Hopefully, we’ll manage to find a way to make things better for them.
Image Source [http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=gadkari&l=commderiv&ct=0&mt=all&adv=1]