BJP president Nitin Gadkari on Sunday took the political battle over the IPL franchisee row involving NCP leader Praful Patel into the latter’s backyard.
As part of his plan to involve the BJP into more NGO-style work, Gadkari got his co-operative society — the Purti group — to buy and revive an ailing Wainganga sugar factory at Devada village in Patel’s constituency, Bhandara.
With farmer suicides still a burning issue in Vidharba, the delay in the revival of the factory was a sore point. Hundreds were jobless and farmers were unable to take their produce to other factories far away.
Patel had apparently turned a deaf ear to the repeated pleas of villagers to revive the factory, owned by NCP leaders but mortgaged to the Maharashtra Co-operative Bank.
A fortnight ago, Gadkari got Purti to pay more than Rs 14.10 crore to the bank and get the factory on its feet. The factory will now be managed as a pilot project for generating power using sugarcane waste as its fuel. This will involve a fresh investment of up to Rs 100 crore.
Showcasing the factory’s revival as the new form of the BJP’s developmental politics, Gadkari took digs at Patel for not being bothered about the problems of his people while enjoying himself with the “spoils” of IPL cricket.
“You go without power for hours...but the minister and his leader, Sharad Pawar, waste time watching cricket and cheerleaders at night,” Gadkari told the villagers. “This will come to an end when the factory generates power and sells it to the government, and makes profit....This factory is now yours. About 5,000 will get jobs and two lakh farmers will beneft.”
Over hundreds of sugarcane growers braved the searing heat and turned up at a function to mark the occasion. Gadkari said he was not a CEO of a profit-making private business but a “member” of the Rs 500-crore Purti groups.
He promised jobs for the locals at the factory and micro-finance to farmers to buy imported sugarcane harvesters. “...Let the youth come forward to form small cooperative groups and we will finance them to buy these machines....”