Who’s Your Sugar Daddy?
I just saw BJP’s new campaign for men with curves. That’s not their campaign for curvy men, that’s just the party’s chubby checker – Nitin Gadkari – when he was spending a day out in his khakis. Showing his shaakha brothers that he can strike a pose along with them.
I liked his coy pose though, leaning at that 30-degree angle to the right. That could be so that he could make a quick escape in case the stage collapses. The poor chap couldn’t make a run for it last time when he was brought to earth in Ghazipur.
But why did he look like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders? Punning? Very smart. Well, Golu found himself in the line of fire when Arvind Kejriwal held a press conference and said that there was a quid pro quo between BJP and the Congress-NCP government of Maharashtra and that Gadkari and his party had kept mum about the irrigation scam under the Maharashtra government. And that the Maharashtra government and former irrigation minister Ajit Pawar had played roulette with the rules so Gadkari could benefit. Kejriwal said that land was acquired from farmers to build a dam in Umred taluka in Nagpur district, but the extra land which should have been given back to the farmers was instead given to Gadkari and his company – at Ajit Pawar’s behest.
Kejriwal also accused him of grabbing farm land in Vidarbha for his sugar factory. But Gadkari’s claimed that the land is still owned by Maharashtra government, not by him.
But how does Gadkari benefit from all this and what does he do with all this land? So, 33 new coal-based thermal power projects were given approval in 2010. Another 38 are pending approval. Gadkari owns five such power-producing industries and three sugar industries in Maharashtra. Which is supposedly the reason why he didn’t want to highlight the corruption in irrigation dams. It’s also a little suspicious how he’s built this massive business empire with more than 15 companies across construction, sugar, distillery, power, coal, agriculture in hardly any time.
But I thought he’s a social entrepreneur. I think even he thinks so. His website describes him as someone whose “thrust area always has remained the economic and social upliftment [sic] of the have-nots…His personality is a perfect mix of entrepreneurship and social leadership”.
You know what they say, if you repeat a lie enough times you’ll start believing it. Well, his bête noire, Arun Jaitley, and Sushma Swaraj seem to believe so, because they both came out in his defence and rubbished Kejriwal’s claims.
So what’s his own defence about why he didn’t say anything about the irrigation scam? Like all good politicians even he’s struck by a permanent case of verbal diarrhoea. He supposedly said, “”How can we oppose them? Chaar kaam wo hamare karte hain, chaar kaam hum unke karte hain”. Which loosely translates into they scratch my back and I scratch theirs’.
At least he’s honest. Maybe stupid statements are the side effects of getting your stomach stapled. True that. He should blame his inaccurate statements on hormonal changes. Stranger things have been said before.
So now that BJP’s denied the charges against their president, that’s that. No wonder he was lounging in his hawaldar shorts that day. No no. Kejriwal also said that Golu’s financial dealings are suspect. The Congress – happy to deflect attention from their daamad’s love for DLF soil and Khurshid saab’s love for tricycles – immediately jumped on the bandwagon and the original king of verbal diarrhoea, Congress’ Diggy Singh said that Gadkari has been directing funds to shell companies.
I think Diggy might just have been miffed that he wasn’t invited to Gadkari’s son’s wedding, unlike Madame and our PMji.
Bariatric surgery can be quite expensive and he went to Mumbai’s best doctor, Kadwala, who’s also stapled up NCP’s Nawab Malik and Nitin Raut and the BJP’s Vinod Tawde. So maybe he needed the funds to keep himself slim and trim. That could have still been forgiven, but no such luck. It’s been revealed that the investments in his company are more long-winded than his large intestine.
For example, Ideal Road Builders (IRB), which was given the construction tender to construct the Mumbai-Pune Express Highway has invested in Gadkari’s company, Purti Limited. Also, most of the addresses of Purti shareholders are unverifiable. Five have turned out to be in a Mumbai slum. And the poor woman who lives at the address looked most distraught at the thought of Gadkari trying to fit into her teeny chawl.
Also, Gadkari’s driver Manohar Panse, his diwan Kawdu Zade and Purti’s employees Sagar Kotaliwale and Nishamt Agnihotri are directors of 16 corporate companies which hold major shares in Purti Power and Sugar Limited. They are also directors of sugar and power factories in Akola, Buldhana, Bhandara and Purti – which only exist on paper. While PPSL comes under the Purti Group, the other three are separate entities. His astrologer is another one of the directors.
He’s obviously taken his role as a social entrepreneur very seriously.
A benefactor and an excellent businessman! His website does say he’s, “A visionary with great ideas and an innovative approach, an able administrator who believes in attaining results”. He’s certainly found innovative ways to fund his companies. It seems that the total number of companies and individuals involved in funding Purti runs into more than 100.
For example, it was reported by The Times of India that Update Mercantile which held 29 lakh Purti shares on September 28, 2011 is controlled by 39 shareholders including Gadkari’s driver Manohar Panse and accountant Kwadu Zade. The biggest shareholder in Update Mercantile is Anantika Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, a company with its address as Motlibai Wadia Building in Mumbai. With 10,000 shares, Anantika has a 9.24% stake in Update Mercantile. Anantika Infrastructure is owned by 13 entities — two individuals and 11 companies. Of these 11 companies, nine are based in Kolkata and two in Delhi. All the 2,72,750 shares in Fast Buildwell are held by 17 companies. Of them, 12 are based in Kolkata, four in Delhi and one in Mumbai. One of the shareholders in Fast Buildwell is a Delhi-based company called King Buildwell which is registered in Munirka village in south Delhi. King Buildwell, in turn, is controlled by two individuals based in Kolkata.
My mind is boggling now. Maybe he really is a canny businessman. And like Einstein, he’ll be appreciated in another age. Yes, in a burst of genius, it also seems shell companies with fake addresses were floated to make investments in Purti Group. One of the alleged shell companies – Regency Equifin Pvt Ltd has Gadkari’s accountant Kawu Zade and some Purti employees as directors. And there are records of Regency Equifin both borrowing and lending money to Gadkari. The company bought shares worth Rs 4 crore in Gadkari’s Purti Group in 2008. And the 2008-09 balance sheet of Regency Equifin shows Gadkari gave unsecured loans of Rs 26 lakh. In 2011, the balance sheet of Regency Equifin shows that the loss-making Purti gave Rs 95 lakh to it.
So what’s the BJP high command’s take on it? He was summoned to Delhi, but it seems all has been forgiven and forgotten. After all, BJP can’t remove him as president. How will they do tricks on their high horse while pointing a finger at Congress’ corruption? And Gadkari has gadded off to Himachal to campaign before polls.
And here I thought Arun Jaitley would be cracking open the champagne. No. It seems Jaitley has to be resigned to being the bridesmaid and not the bride for a while to come.
Life’s just not fair. Well, Gadkari has been with the BJP since 1985. And has successfully contested elections since he was 32. A truly round all-rounder. So they have to stand by him. At least for now. Let’s see what new skeletons tumble out of his shell companies’ closets in the next few days.
His favourite film: Driving Miss Daisy and Basic Instinct
His favourite lyric: Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.
What you’ll always find on his writing desk: A stapler.
His favourite rhyme: Johny Johny, yes papa. Eating sugar…you know the rest.
The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @rajyasree