The Maharashtra political class seems to have closed ranks behind BJP President Nitin Gadkari. The latest has been support from Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, who has said that the corruption charges against Gadkari were the result of a conspiracy hatched by India Against Corruption activists Arvind Kejriwal and Anjali Damania.
In an editorial in 'Saamna', Shiv Sena's mouthpiece, Thackeray claimed the charges of land grabbing in Vidarbha were a conspiracy. But the editorial attacked political rival, the NCP. It hinted that the fault lies with the irrigation department, which was then under the NCP's Ajit Pawar.
On Thursday, Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar also praised Gadkari for his work for farmers. Seeking to trash the allegations of land scam against Gadkari, Sharad Pawar came out in his defence saying he was working for the development of farmers. In an interview with IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, he also said he had no business links with Gadkari.
"I have no business with Mr Gadkari. If anybody can establish then I will be happy to handover that business to them. There is no question of business relationship. I can tell you one thing, politically we fight, in elections we fight, but in Maharashtra there is some culture. In Maharashtra, generally there is a tendency that political workers should try and do some developmental work," Pawar said.
Meanwhile, Gadkari is looking at projecting himself as a friend of the farmer. He will visit Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh on Friday. After the BJP declared a war on poverty, the party says poverty is the main cause of rising suicides in the region. It also claims that about 2,000 suicides of farmers and handloom weavers are reported every year from North Telangana. Gadkari is expected to address farmers and talk about their problems related to agriculture including inflation, scarcity of electricity and price of produce.
Accusing Gadkari of taking over land taken away from a farmer in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region, Arvind Kejriwal had said Gadkari was promoting his business interests at the cost of farmers. "Whose interests does Gadkari represent? He has a very big business empire. His interests are clashing with those of Vidarbha's farmers?" the activist-cum-politician said.
Kejriwal targeted Gadkari accusing him of receiving personal favours by getting around 100 acres of agriculture land in Maharashtra after the Congress-NCP government there bent rules. Utilising a press conference to "expose" Gadkari, the activist-turned-politician alleged that all parties were involved in a cosy relationship of "looting" the country even though they raise issues against each other just for the sake of it.
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