Former BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Sunday denied he had threatened income tax authorities but insisted that the raids conducted on some companies allegedly associated with his Purti Group were a part of a conspiracy to malign him and his party.
"I never threatened the IT Department or its officials. I have full faith in the professional integrity of the department. Unfortunately, my public statements have been distorted and misinterpreted," Gadkari said in a statement.
However, he felt there was a conspiracy behind the raids. "...I have reasons to believe that unnecessary dragging my name in the context of these inquiries is part of a conspiracy to defame me and my party".
The "deliberate move", he added, "to link me and members of my family in connection with these open inquiries against some companies and the misleading briefings to the media in this regard is calculated, mischievous and politically motivated to damage my reputation".
He said that while exposing the "sinister game plan of the UPA government" to influence the inquires and mislead the media, he had only urged the IT Department and its officials to remain impartial and not get influenced by the dictates of their political bosses.
The IT Department and its officials are free to conduct any independent inquiry in response to complaints received against any company or individuals, he said.
The offices of 11 companies who have reportedly invested in Purti Group were raided by the IT authorities on January 22, a day before the election of the BJP president.
Nitin Gadkari was all set to seek second term for the top post but was forced to give up after senior BJP leaders including LK Advani objected to his candidature in wake of the charges of financial irregularities against him.
Gadkari reiterated that neither he nor any member of his family have anything to do with the companies against whom the inquires have been going on and that "these are not Purti Group companies".
A day after demitting office, Gadkari had told party workers in Nagpur, "As BJP president I had to maintain dignity and work within boundaries.... Now I am a free man. Congress' boat is about to sink and when our party comes to power, there would be no Chidambaram or Sonia to save them (IT officials)."