7.20pm: The BJP supports Gadkari, says Swaraj
Swaraj also tried to explain that the land that Gadkari has been farming on, was a wasted piece of land. “The farmers were given full compensation for the land. And Nitin ji has the land on lease for eleven years,” says Swaraj. However, she didn’t explain how a land acquired by the government for irrigation purposes, could be given away to a private party, when there is no clear law about such an exchange?
Like we noted in the blog earlier, the BJP dismissed Kejriwal’s charges as baseless and gimmicky, meant to garner support for his own party. Dismissed and attacked by both the Congress and the BJP, will Kejriwal’s party lose relevance or strengthen the position they have been trying to set itself on?
Swaraj had an answer for the same. “You must have heard of the fable where the cattle heard sounds a false tiger alarm. And no one believes him when a tiger finally gets him. The same applies for Kejriwal?”
Stinging? We would say, yes!
7.15pm: No big bomb this, declares Sushma Swaraj
‘Kiske upar padega Kejri-bomb?” Sushma Swaraj has significantly upped her game when it comes to oratory. “IAC used the press conference as a platform to launch and glorify his party. The only thing they missed is asking for votes,” says Swaraj.
As expected, Swaraj rubbished claims that Damania and Gadkari had a conversation like that. “That land IAC is claiming was being used by farmers to cultivate, was a wasteland. In fact Nitin ji has turned the land into a nursery for sugarcane saplings, which he gives to farmers in western Maharashtra at a subsidised rate of Rs 5 per sapling. The usual rate is Rs 13,” reveals Swaraj.
7.05pm: ‘I’m no builder, I’m a social entrepreneur’
Gadkari traces Kejriwal’s allegations to the latter’s ambitions for his new-formed party. “Thanks to all the scams that have exposed the Congress, the BJP has gained a strong position in Indian politics. Kejriwal is jealous and wants that position,” he said.
Later, however, Gadkari decided not to let the Congress off easily. “I suspect Kejriwal is working for the Congress. The irrigation scam was exposed by the BJP not Anjali Damania. We are aware of all their scams. I think Kejriwal is with them,” said Gadkari brusquely, dismissing Kejriwal’s allegations as baseless.
7.00pm: Gadkari comes out to defend his ‘businesses’
Gadkari smells ‘conspiracy’ to defame BJP behind Kejriwal’s allegations. “I have written a book on irrigation and I have always struggled to get farmers waters in their lands. Only 0.8 percent of the water from the dam is used in my factory. The rest of the water is used in other factories and is also used by farmers,” he says.
6.20pm: BJP press conference at 6.30pm
Given that Kejriwal just stopped short of calling Gadkari, BJP’s Vadra, the BJP must have been gritting their teeth while watching the press conference. Now that they have been made one with the ‘SP, BSP, DMK, AIDMK’ and most other parties in common knowledge, they have to come up with a fitting retort.
While Goswami alleged on his show that BJP might come up with a strong defence since Kejriwal had little proof this time, the IAC did furnish a document of agreement signed by Ajit Pawar handing over the 100 acres of land to Gadkari!
It is to be seen if Kejriwal acquires new names, this time, thanks to the BJP.
6.05pm: IAC activists in a spot over their land issues
Members of the crowd also had some uneasy questions about properties owned by IAC members Anjali Damania and Prashant Bhushan. However, it was Kejriwal who came to their defence by strongly daring anyone in the country to initiate a probe against any IAC activist. “You have the police, you have the courts, you have RTI. Investigate our dealings, property, possessions, it will be clear what kind of people we are,” he said. Following which the press conference ended and as Goswami noted with a ‘suspicious’ intonation, “It was unusual for an IAC press con!”
5.50pm: ‘We know there will be no probe against either Vadra, Khurshid or Gadkari’
Arvind Kejriwal might well emerge as a poster-boy of contemporary politics. He doesn’t scream, he actually addresses and listens to the media and he seems to have successfully resurrected himself from the pit of criticism that Anna‘s disapproval had pushed him into. “We are not witch-hunting. We are just showing to the people of the country that all these politicians and thieves and robbers who are looting the country,” says Kejriwal.
When a reporter questioned why Kejriwal is not going to the courts against the people he has brought allegations against, he answers cheekily, “You people take it forward. You do something, we’ll do something. Together we will move forward.”
It’s not difficult to figure out that Kejriwal’s series of exposes have been designed as an image building exercise for his party, especially since Anna Hazare distanced himself from it and uncomfortable questions about Kejriwal’s political ambitions had cropped up. By digging up enough muck on the party in power and the one in opposition, Kejriwal successfully positions his party as one whose politics is isolated from the mainstream politics of the country!
5.40pm: Prashant Bhushan takes over, questions how Gadkari with his 17 companies, can afford to be a do-gooder
Prashant Bhushan is the perfect foil to Kejriwal’s vocal fireworks. While Kejriwal zestily batted for the farmers, Bhushan, in his wise-old-man tone first calls Salman Khurshid ‘mafia-ka-don’ and then questions how Nitin Gadkari with his 17 companies is siphoning tax payers’ money off.
And soon enough, Gadkari has been proved to be the BJP’s Robert Vadra: “We were surprised how Sharad Yadav, who is in the opposition, came out in support of Robert Vadra.” Now he likens Gadkari and Vadra with everyone from Mayawati, Kapil Sibal, Salman Khusrhid.
“They are all goons. They have criminalised politics. All political parties are interlinked and work with each other. They fight in the Parliament and in front of the press, but they are all hand-in-glove with each other!”
5.25pm: Kejriwal directs to copies of documents signed by Pawar, handing over land to Gadkari, uploaded on IAC website
Mamata Banerjee should be a worried woman now. Look how stunningly Kejriwal has literally snatched her ‘maa, maati, manush’ agenda, from right under her nose! “What was Gadkari ji doing with the land he forcibly acquired from the farmers in collusion with the Maharashtra government? He was also farming in the same land! He snatched lands from farmers, who were starving, to cultivate them!” he hollered.
He went on to announce how the water from the dam built by acquiring farmers’ lands were directed to companies owned by Gadkari and his acquaintances. “Gadkari has a power plant in Vidarbha. The water from the dam was given to the factories like his, for them to run without hiccups. The farmers got no water to irrigate their lands and we all know that farmers in Vidarbha are killing themselves due to losses suffered from the persistent drought!” says Kejriwal.
5.20pm: Kejriwal points at how Gadkari and the Maharashtra govt colluded to forcibly acquire land from farmers
If nothing, Kejriwal has to be credited for his brilliant oratory. He talks about one Gajanan Rambhoji Ghatge, a farmer is Khursapur village in Nagpur whose land was acquired by the government to build a dam. Allegedly, after the dam was constructed in 1997 it was found that 100 acres of land was lying unused. When the farmers demanded the land back for agriculture purposes in 2002, they were told two years later, that the land belonged to the government and was kept aside for beautification. “However in 2005 Gadkari wrote to Ajit Pawar, then the irrigation minister asking for the land. He was given away the land in very short time! So Gadkari ji took away the farmers’ lands!”
5.15pm: Speculations turn out to be true. Kejriwal targets Gadkari and Ajit Pawar’s relations
Kejriwal reiterated what Damania had said about her interaction with Gadkari. “Gadkari said that I’m in great terms with Sharad Pawar. We do some work for them, he does some work for us. We can’t tale any action against them,” said Kejriwal about Damania’s conversation with the BJP president.
5.10pm: BJP it is! Kejriwal hints at a BJP-Cong nexus!
Kejriwal starts with asking what probably neither BJP or Congress imagine in their nightmares. “Is the BJP the opposition party or hand in glove with the party in power at the Centre?” he asks!
5.00pm: Arvind Kejriwal all set to ‘unveil’ his new expose
With a little help from Arnab Goswami’s Shakespearean vocal theatrics, if you’re watching the IAC press conference on Times Now, Arvind Kejriwal seems all set to serve the BJP a stinging attack! The site of the press con looks like a small mela as usual with TV cameras, still cameras and people thronging the small venue and IAC members elaborately and now efficiently directing the press to take their places… as Kejriwal waits with a pensive expression and papers in his hands, ready to explode if we might say!
4.50pm: Reports suggest that Gadkari’s aide Sancheti was involved in the Maharashtra irrigation scam
While BJP had tried their best to ride the Kejriwal revelations to put nails into the UPA coffin, they stand the risk of being paid back in their own coin with anticipation for Kejriwal’s BJP expose spiking. According to reports, Ajay Sancheti, Gadkari’s close aide benefitted from the Maharashtra irrigation funds. It is being suspected that Gadkari wrote to a senior Maharashtra chief minister requesting for funds to be released for a project where Sancheti was involved.
4.25pm: Kejriwal on his way for the big expose
Like most of his other big revelations, Kejriwal’s tryst with Gadkari will not take place without generous news television love. The activist-turned-politician is said to be on his way to the Constitution Club in Delhi followed by a procession of OB vans.
While Salman Khurshid, with his ‘bug me and I’ll show you blood’ heroics in Farukkhabad might have hijacked the spotlight away from Nitin Gadkari, the latter is all set to get his 15 minutes of glory back today evening. Not swayed by Khurshid’s attack, a day after Kejriwal hastily withdrew his agitation, the IAC’s plan to expose Gadkari seems to be on its track.
Especially with a letter written by BJP leader Ram Jethmalani surfacing at the opportune moment, IAC’s Gadkari expose seems to be gaining steam. According to CNN-IBN, Jethmalani had written to party president Gadkari about the sorry state of affairs in the BJP. Also, in a stunning statement Jethmalani also said that if the charges against Gadkari are proved, he would demand the party president’s resignation.
However, Gadkari refused to acknowledge the fact that he has received such a letter.
Previously, IAC activist Anjali Damania, who was behind exposing the Maharashtra irrigation scam that led to the resignation of deputy CM Ajit Pawar had alleged that Nitin Gadkari had refused to help her with the expose. She had said that while she has made repeated requests to Gadkari to help her with investigating the scam, the politician refused to do so for the sake of his relations with NCP president Sharad Pawar.