Adding to the woes of water resources minister Girish Mahajan, who is in controversy over a land deal carried out 15 years ago to set up a private sugar factory in Jalgaon, his political opponent and NCP leader, Digambar Patil, filed a complaint against Mahajan with the Election Commission.
Patil wants the constitutional authority to disqualify his membership for failing to reveal his assets in the election affidavit filed before the 2014 Assembly polls. The complaint makes reference to the land purchased by Mahajan in 2001-02 in Manpur village, Jalgaon district, pointing out the property card is in the minister’s name.
HT had reported in its edition on Wednesday that Mahajan was facing serious allegations over purchase of a 1.99-hectare plot. The plot, part of the larger 31 hectares, was purchased for setting up a Tapi Purna Sugar and Allied Products, by a group of BJP leaders led by Khadse.
Mahajan was a shareholder in the company along with Khadse, BJP MLC Gurumukh Jagvani, BJP MLA Haribhau Jawale. Of the total land acquired, 13.04 hectares of land was in the name of the company, while 16.39 hectares of land was in the name of Khadse’s kin, including his daughter-in-law and BJP MP Raksha Khadse, and 1.99 hectares in Mahajan’s name.
However, none of Mahajan’s election affidavits -- 2004, 2009, 2014 -- make a reference to this land.
The complainant in his letter pointed out: “This is tantamount to being a corrupt practice and is punishable by law. Mahajan should be disqualified as member of the state assembly. Action should be taken against him under the Representation of People Act.”
Activists alleged the land was acquired using political clout from Dalit farmers, who were in turn promised jobs in the factory. The factory was never set up and farmers have been demanding return of their land.
Mahajan had earlier told HT he had forgotten about the deal and assumed it was in the name of the factory. “I admit it is not in my Election Affidavit, but that was not done wilfully. This is not a land grab case. It was purchased in my name because at the time some clause did not allow us to buy more than 25 acres or so for a sugar factory. We were also looking at setting up an ethanol plant. I am willing to represent myself before the Commission,” he had said.