A businessman who was indispensable for those in power, liquor baron Gurdeep Singh Chadha, alias Ponty Chadha, called the shots in Uttar Pradesh when the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was ruling from 2007 to 12.
The change in guard in March, when the Samajwadi Party (SP) came to power, did not change the pace of his expansion.
The liquor baron's political ties came to the fore when then UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav inaugurated Lucknow's Wave mall-cum-multiplex - owned and run by Chadha - in May 2004.
Soon, Chadha's company, Great Value Food, bagged the tender to supply supplementary nutrition for the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). Around a dozen firms, mainly small-scale units in UP, had also submitted quotations for the contract. However, the support of then national general secretary of SP, Amar Singh, and some powerful bureaucrats ensured Chadha's company got the Rs. 2,000 crore contract.
In 2007, when Mayawati came to power she ordered a probe into the deals finalised under the SP's rule. Observers thought this was the end of the road for Chadha. He surprised everyone by emerging even stronger.
He got the annual excise policy customised for his company and had a stranglehold over the liquor distribution in UP for five years.His critics claim his wealth rose dramatically under the Mayawati government. The sale of 21 sugar mills run by the UP State Sugar Corporation Limited (UPPSSCL) under the BSP rule became a source for controversy because most of them went to Chadha.
The defeat of BSP in March did not have any impact on Chadha as he went to bag the Rs. 9,000-crore contract to supply supplementary nutrition.