Damania, the homemaker who took on the powerful | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Damania, the homemaker who took on the powerful

For now, it looks like India Against Corruption member Anjali Damania has had the proverbial last laugh, Ketaki Ghoge reports.

mumbai Updated: Oct 18, 2012 12:09 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

For now, it looks like India Against Corruption member Anjali Damania has had the proverbial last laugh.

In the last week of September, when Damania revealed on national TV channel that BJP’s national president Nitin Gadkari had rebuffed her when she went to meet him for helping her in the irrigation scam, many in the media said this was an act of harakiri for the activist.

They reasoned to her that it made sense to take on one enemy at a time and since by then she had taken up cudgels against NCP over irrigation scam, it would have made sense to retain BJP as friends, especially since she had no evidence to back her claims.

Damania had then stood her ground even after Gadkari sent her a defamation notice. She insisted that Gadkari had told her that he has business relations with NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

"Woh hamare char kaam karte hai, aur hum unke char kaam karte hai," was famously quoted by her then even as Gadkari refused to get into televised debates with her.

On Wednesday, she made a comeback, after doing a recce investigative trail in Nagpur, Gadkari’s hometown. IAC's charges against Gadkari have put him in trouble.

India against Corruption activist Anjali Damania address the press conference on BJP President Nitin Gadkari. HT photo

But, Damania, a pathologist by profession and a home maker, who stumbled into activism after joining IAC movement like hundreds of others last year would not have imagined this newest twist in her battle to expose irrigation scam in the state.

After all, until recently BJP leaders and Damania were on the same page and had even exchanged several documents to expose the irrigation scam.

Anjali, a Maharashtrian married to a Gujarathi broker has a RSS background and believed that BJP could help her in this fight.

Several BJP leaders in Maharashtra including legislator Devendra Fadnavis, former MLA Kirit Somiaya, Eknath Khadse have met Damania in the past on this issue.

Her fight started tamely enough to protect her own land in Karjat that had been threatened by an irrigation project, Kondhane.

But, armed with Right to Information Act and a determination to not give up, Damania found shocking information, first on this specific project and then on several others, like Balganga, Kalu, Susari, all commissioned recently in Konkan.

The RTI papers revealed cost escalations in violation of all norms, contractor-official-politician nexus, fudging of tender documents all leading to a scam worth thousands of crores. This was enough ammunition to dislodge the NCP.

And, both Congress and BJP were interested. The former to keep its ally in place, the later to keep its corruption agenda alive.

Damania said she realised soon enough that neither could be trusted and she was alone in her fight.