The man who leads the Congress party in Madhya Pradesh is too ‘invested’ in business dealings with those close to the very government and party he is supposed to fight in the assembly elections later this year.
Family members of Pradesh Congress president Kantilal Bhuria’s personal secretary Praveen Kakkar have business relationships with traders, property dealers and liquor barons deemed to be close to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Praveen Kakkar was a police inspector who came in touch with Bhuria during his posting in Jhabua (150 km from Indore) — the state Congress chief’s home town. He joined as an OSD (officer on special duty) when Bhuria became Union minister of state for agriculture in the first UPA government, and currently works as his personal secretary.
HT has official documents which show that Praveen Kakkar’s wife Sadhana Kakkar and son Salil Kakkar are directors in companies which grew plump during the BJP regime in the state. Bhuria’s son Vikrant also has close business dealings with the Kakkars — he is codirector with Salil in a fertiliser company.
Sadhana Kakkar is a director at the Indore-based Sharad Builders Pvt Ltd. The other directors of this company are Sharad Kale and Krishan Kant Goyal — both of whom are BJP workers and have been activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the ruling party’s youth wing. They are known to be close to state industries minister Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Salil Kakkar has stakes in a couple of liquor companies based in Indore. He is the director of Malwa Brew & Alcohols (India) Pvt Ltd, which came into being on March 16, 2010 and got a licence for setting up a distillery in just 10 months under the BJP regime. He is also an additional director at Pinnacle Breweries and Distilleries India. In both these companies, the other director is Harminder Singh Bhatia, alias Pintoo, a liquor baron who has helped Vijayvargiya and BJP MLA Ramesh Mendola in the last assembly election.
The ‘base camp’ for Kakkar business enterprises is BCM Heights, opposite Bombay Hospital, in Indore. This building was constructed by the family of Sundeep Chordia, considered to be close to Vijayvargiya. Chordia is a co-director with Salil Kakkar at Third Eye Security Services, which has its office at BCM Heights. The same building also houses the offices of Sharad Builders and Panco Enterprises, a fertiliser company where Bhuria's son is a director, along with Salil.
When HT contacted the state Congress president, he termed those levelling charges against him as “dishonest and blackmailers”.
He said, "All the charges against me are baseless and fabricated.” He added: “They have been launching propaganda against me for the past three years, but nothing has been proved.”
Praveen Kakkar denied having any business relations with any politician. “I am a businessman and so is my son. But we have no business relations with any politician. My son is not involved in the business of any distillery. I am prepared to face any inquiry,” he told HT.
Vijayvargiya could not be reached despite several attempts by HT.
In April 2012, a former spokesperson of the state Congress unit, KK Mishra, had written a letter to the party’s internal inquiry committee detailing Bhuria and Kakkar’s business relations with BJP sympathisers. He wrote: “When I apprised party chief Bhuria a few months back that those who are associated with him are partners of BJP mafia, he (Bhuria) gagged me for raising a voice against the BJP, corrupt ministers and those who are involved in business dealings with them.”
“In such circumstances Bhuria cannot have the moral authority to take on the BJP in the run-up to the assembly elections. Even his brotherinlaw’s name surfaced as a beneficiary after the May 2012 income tax raids against (builder) Dilip Suryavanshi and (mining baron) Sudhir Sharma,” a senior Congress leader told HT, requesting anonymity.
Bhuria, elected state Congress president two years back, has been under constant attack from within the party for being soft towards the BJP. The ruling party’s victory in the assembly by-polls, civic body polls and Krishi Upaj Mandi elections in the past few years have caused much consternation among the Congress rank and file, sources told HT. Even Bhuria’s home turf Jhabua had been won over by the BJP in the nagar palika elections of July 2012.