New Delhi: Rallying behind party president Nitin Gadkari, senior BJP leaders rejected charges of any wrongdoing by him in acquiring land in Maharashtra and said the allegations would be fought politically and not legally. (Agencies)
Soon after Arvind Kejriwal alleged that Gadkari had acquired large tracts of farm land in Maharashtra through improper means, BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley came out in strong defence of the party chief, saying the charges were "false and baseless".
Addressing a joint press conference, the two leaders took a dig at activist-turned-politician Kejriwal, saying he was rubbishing all parties to "hog the limelight".
"Lot of hype was created about the press conference as if some big bomb is being exploded... He (Kejriwal) tried his best to dig out some scam but could not find anything," said Swaraj, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha.
"We are happy that our national president is not involved in any scam. The party is fully with him," she said.
Dubbing Kejriwal's press conference as "just like an election rally", Swaraj said, "We will fight politically. We won't go for defamation suit."
Jaitley said since Kejriwal was forming a political party, he has the ambition of hogging the "limelight".
"A mountain of what was not even a mole-hill sought to be created... The hitman (Kejriwal) has scored a self-goal."
Rubbishing the allegations against the BJP chief, Swaraj said the land which has been given to Gadkari was a wasteland and he used it to grow sugarcane saplings which was then provided to farmers at a subsidized rate.
"It was wasteland, not farmland as alleged... It is wrongly alleged that it was farm land. Gadkari has provided subsidised sugarcane saplings to farmers of Maharashtra," she said.
The land was acquired in 1983-84 and the dam was built in 1997 and the farmers were paid total compensation during the process, she said.
"IAC also alleged that the dam water is being diverted to Gadkari's business. Only 0.85 percent, less than one percent, of water is being used by him. Gadkari has always said that he treats his business as a mission," the BJP's Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha said.
Attacking IAC, she also said it is not their business to decide the functioning of a political party and the activist has raked up the issue only because Gadkari is about to get a second term as the party president.
Jaitley said IAC is trying to raise question marks over credibility of all political parties.
"IAC has tried to bring in a moral equivalence among all political parties and put a question mark on all of them... Today's press conference (by Kejriwal) was a failed attempt to bring in a moral equivalence between BJP and Congress," he said.
Stating that he fails to understand where was any allegation during the press conference held by Kejriwal and IAC activists, Jaitley said "Today IAC has damaged the credibility of civil society organisations."
Vidarbha has been a dry region and a 11-year lease was given to a trust to grow sugarcane saplings just like it is done in laboratories, he said, adding "it has been an attempt to make the region green."
Jaitley and Sushma also said all the scandals related to Maharashtra and Vidarbha region have been unearthed by Gadkari himself.
"He has been the person behind unearthing scams like Telgi (stamp paper scam) and several other things. He has filed so many PILs... He has been empowering the farmers in that region," Sushma said.
Replying to a question that BJP leader Ram Jethmalani too had leveled allegations against the party chief, Jaitley said "these two issues are completely unrelated."
New Delhi: Rallying behind party president Nitin Gadkari, senior BJP leaders rejected charges of any wrongdoing by him in acquiring land in Maharashtra and said the allegations would be fought politically and not legally.