The controversy over allegations of disproportionate assets against water resources minister Sunil Tatkare has taken a new twist.
The names of Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray’s wife Rashmi and son Aditya have cropped up in the controversy, after senior BJP leader Kirit Somaiya released a list of 79 companies that allegedly have questionable investments by Tatkare’s family and friends. Somaiya has also posted the list on his website.
Two of these companies, Kamod Traders Private Limited and Padminish Exim Private Limited, have Rashmi and Aditya as directors.
Another two companies on the list, Venue Infra-Projects Private Limited and Siddhesh Realty Private Limited, have Rashmi's brother Shridhar Patankar as one of the directors. Both these companies also have Girish Amonkar as a director. Amonkar has partnered with Tatkare’s son Aniket in several ventures, including companies like Geetamrut Agro Estate Private Limited, Multiventure Estate Private Limited, and Carnation Agro Estate Private Limited.
While exposing the scam, Somaiya had pointed out in a press release that Venue Infra-Projects invested Rs80 crore in acquiring agricultural land in its first year of operation in 2011. “The source of the money is unknown and this is the only transaction made by the company so far,” the release states.
Thackeray’s chief public relation officer Harshal Pradhan said, “There is no clarification on this issue from the Sena’s end. You should ask BJP leader Kirit Somaiya about this since he raised it.”
When contacted, Patankar admitted that he held the position of director in the two companies, but denied knowledge of Amonkar’s links with Tatkare. “I do own these companies, but I do not know Tatkare since I am not involved in politics. Amonkar works with me, but as a professional he can work with anyone. I have no idea about his other associations,” Patankar said.
A Sena official said on condition of anonymity, “The Thackerays are directors of these companies, but these businesses are legal. So there is nothing wrong.” HT tried to contact Aditya Thackeray, but he did not respond to calls and messages.
Somaiya smelt a rat in the development. “This is a political conspiracy to wedge a rift between the Sena and BJP. I do not have any information, nor have I produced any papers with regards to Rashmi Thackeray or anyone from the Thackeray family. This is being done to divert attention from the real issue,” he said.
“My allegations were against investments made by Tatkare and the modus operandi used by him to launder money. He has stakes in many big companies and projects. So, there could have been use of some legitimate businesses and companies,” Somaiya said.
Notably, the addresses of Padminish Exim Pvt Ltd and Kamod Traders, of which Aditya and Rashmi Thackeray are directors, and that of Venue Infra-Projects, where Patankar is a director, are registered on the same address at Centre Point complex in Andheri. The address of the fourth company, Siddhesh Realty Private Limited, is registered on Patankar’s residential address at MIG colony in Bandra.
Tatkare was not available for comment despite repeated phone calls and text messages. Tatkare had earlier said that the businesses being run by Aniket are legitimate, and that his son was not depending on him to run them.