A little ahead of the two-day national executive meet of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Delhi on Saturday, the Congress party launched a scathing attack on the Modi-government and has demanded sacking of one of its best performing ministers—Nitin Gadkari, who’s the union minister for road transport and highways.
Accusing Gadkari of “crony capitalism” for allotting a single bid contract to a company (IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd) close to his son in Zojilla tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh raked up the old issue and has demanded sacking of the union minister from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.
“We demanded sacking of Gadkari for his involvement in corruption. Maintaining silence and not taking any action against his colleague despite having evidences show that PM Modi has been encouraging corruption. We’ve raised this issue at different levels, even from the floor of the House, but the PM refused to respond,” alleged Singh during a press conference on Saturday.
“This is a clear case of corruption at the highest level and I demand that Gadkari be sacked if the PM believes in controlling corruption in his government. But, by protecting his corrupt colleagues, Modi has proved himself as a good chowkidar (guard). Though the contract has been cancelled, Gadkari should be sacked. The government won’t agree, but the cancellation of the contract proves that they have noted the charges I had brought in this case,” he claimed.
It’s noteworthy that Gadkari cancelled the contract in March, claiming that he had no personal interest or association in the said contract.
Re-telling the old story, Singh cited the murder of social activist Satish Shetty, who had exposed several cases of corruptions, including the alleged land scams of the Maharashtra-based IRB Group, of which IRB Infrastructure is a part.
“CBI should be given a free-hand to investigate the murder of Satish Shetty. We’ve also demanded the Supreme Court to appoint a committee to monitor this case,” Singh said.
However, Gadkari and his ministry have been adjudged as one of the best performers in terms of deliverance in the Modi government.
Gadkari had also proved his calibre during the Atal Behari Vajpayee government (NDA 1.0) and was the man behind the successful completion of the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and it was his vision as advisor to the then PM Vajpayee that led to ‘Golden Quadrilateral’ which in turn catapulted Indian economy.
In January, the Congress had alleged corruption in a Rs 10,500-crore contract awarded by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd for construction of Zojila Pass tunnel project in Jammu and Kashmir. Digvijaya Singh wrote to the PM demanding that the matter be referred to the CBI. He had also met the central vigilance commissioner and sought action in the matter.
Singh had then claimed that Gadkari had close links with the Mhaiskar family—the promoters of IRB group. “In the past, they have invested crores in companies of Gadkari family and Nikhil Nitin Gadkari, son of Nitin Gadkari, was shareholder and promoter director in Ideal Energy Projects Ltd of IRB Group,” Singh wrote in his letter to the PM.
However, Gadkari denied the charge against him and on 2 March, he cancelled the contract without citing any reason.
The contract was awarded to IRB infrastructure in January 2015 after it emerged as the sole bidder.
The Zojila tunnel, the longest in Southeast Asia, is of great socio-economic importance to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The tunnel would be of strategic importance as it is located at an altitude of 3.528 metres between Srinagar and Leh.
Congress leaders are 'on sale'.
If Digvijaya Singh is to be believed, there are a few Congress leaders (including MLAs), who are 'on sale'.
Responding to the ongoing crisis in Uttarakhand, he said, “Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have been moving around with a shopping list in hand and contacting those leaders (in Congress) including the former Uttarakhand chief minister, who are hungry for power and buying them to their side. These Congress leaders don’t believe in Congress ideology and principle.”
In Uttarakhand, the Harish Rawat-led Congress government has lost support of its seven MLAs including former chief minister Vijay Bahuguna. The BJP has claimed a majority to form a new government.
BJP General Secretary and in-charge of Uttarakhand, Kailash Vijayvargiya told Firstpost, “BJP is ready to form government in Uttarakhand and also ready for an election. Harish Rawat government has lost confidence of its MLAs. We’ve urged the governor to immediately dissolve the present government.”