Both Nitin Gadkari and Niranajan Hiranandani are facing severe allegations of wrong-doings. So, it is most ironic that the developer, as head of the Indian Merchants’ Chamber, has invited the beleaguered BJP president on his “Vision for India and Mumbai Development”. Unfortunately, at this point of time, people want to hear something else from Mr Gadkari
On 6th November (5.30 pm) the Indian Merchants’ Chamber (IMC) has invited Nitin Gadkari to speak at an interactive session on “Vision for India and Mumbai Development”. It is not clear whether Mr Gadkari, who has cancelled some of his public engagements will actually turn up for the event. After all, the media as well as the public is interested in Mr Gadkari’s views on an entirely different issue at this point in time.
He is under pressure from all quarters, including his own colleagues from the BJP, for the dubious manner in which his group has been funded as well as new revelations in The Economic Times about the maze of shell companies that have allegedly helped him launder large amounts of money into his Purti Group.
Is the timing of this session a way to allow Mr Gadkari to engage with the public and speak about his own past record in terms of Mumbai’s infrastructure development? If yes, then the timing is very ill-conceived. Yes, Mr Gadkari does have achievements to his credit, but he has squandered away that legacy with his deal with Ideal Road Builders (IRB)—the toll kings of India.
The bigger irony is that the invite to Mr Gadkari is from Niranjan Hiranandani, IMC’s president, who himself is facing an investigation by the Maharashtra Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) the alleged Rs45,000 crore Powai land scam. Last month, the Bombay High Court lifted its earlier stay on the probe into the Powai real estate scam allowing the ACB to restart investigation into Hiranandani Developers, senior state bureaucrat Thomas Benjamin and other unknown persons.
Meanwhile the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) and the Income-Tax (I-T) department are probing source of funding of various shell companies that invested in Mr Gadkari’s Purti group.
The irony of this meeting is probably lost on the IMC and its office bearers, because nothing exposes the happy nexus between politicians and businessmen that this attempts to lend each other countenance.