Pawar comes to Gadkariís defence, asks what scam

Nitin Gadkari

A day after he was accused by India Against Corruption of wrongfully acquiring land in Vidarbha, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari Thursday found unexpected support from Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who said Gadkari's activities were a service to that region and he could not understand what the "scam" was.

IAC's Arvind Kejriwal had Wednesday alleged a nexus between Gadkari and Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party. He had said that Pawar's nephew Ajit Pawar, as Maharashtra's irrigation minister, had allotted 37 hectares of land to Gadkari, in violation of rules.

Pawar senior denied having business links with Gadkari and said that while they are political rivals and fight each other in elections, there was a culture in Maharashtra of political leaders coming together for the sake of development.

"I have not gone in depth but on what I have seen so far, when setting (up) of sugar mills along with the farmers is a service to that area and secondly taking land and providing excellent quality of seeds to hundreds of farmers is definitely useful to the farming community," Pawar told the CNN-IBN news channel in an interview. "Gadkari is a responsible man, works responsibly. I have no business with Mr Gadkari. If anyone can establish I will be happy to hand over that business to them."

Pawar also dismissed Kejriwal's suggestion of a scam in extra land near a dam in Vidarbha being given on lease to Gadkari's trust.

"In a particular project land was available with the irrigation department which was owned by some farmers previously.there was a demand from Mr Gadkari that land should be available for my institution for a particular purpose and.irrigation development board had given approvals," the minister said. "Irrigation development board is headed by minister and this is an approval by committee of the directors...I don't understand what is a scam here (sic)."

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