Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal has mounted a fresh attack on the BJP president Nitin Gadkari following a TV channel's finding that a company which allegedly got benefits when Gadkari was a minister in Maharashtra later returned the favour by giving him a loan of Rs. 165 crore.
Besides, it was alleged that companies that appear to exist only on papers have made substantial investments in Gadkari's Purti group.
But Gadkari denied any conflict of interest or quid pro quo in his business dealings.
"It was being said that (our) expose against Gadkari was small. What is the response after the latest revelation which shows a direct conflict of interest and existence of front companies," said Kejriwal.
News channel NDTV claimed on Saturday, with Gadkari in their studio, that when he was the Public Works Department minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government between 1995 and 1999, Ideal Road Builders (IRB) was awarded hefty contracts. Its turnover rose from Rs. 41 crore in 1996 to Rs. 67 crore in 1999. Later, IRB invested in Gadkari's Purti group in 2001. The channel further showed that in 2010, Purti group got a loan of Rs. 165 crore from Global Safety Vision, a company by the IRB founder.
"I can accept equity from anyone. I am a friend of Mr Mhaiskar and many contractors are my friends... Purti has losses of Rs. 64 crore, Mr. Mhaiskar loaned me Rs. 165 crore from his company, and I have repaid Rs. 64 crore," the channel quoted Gadkari as saying.
The channel also raised other questions about the investors of Purti group, which has eight group companies having interests in power, sugar, ethanol, alcohol, bio-diesel, among others.
The channel claimed to have found many investors' companies existing only on papers.
According to the channel, two investor companies- Swiftsol India and Earnwell Traders that were registered in a chawl in suburban Malad in Mumbai were found to be untraceable.
Three more companies were registered with a same address in Malad in Mumbai but the family living there had no clue.
Cong: Block leaders can tackle Kejriwal
Dismissing India Against Corruption leader Arvind Kejriwal's challenge for an open debate with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said block-level party leaders are adequate to counter Kejriwal.
"Any of our block-level spokespersons are more than enough to deal with these insinuations and allegations cacophony," said Tewari. "Kejriwal, like his guru from Gujarat (Modi), always attempts to punch above his weight."