Mumbai/Surajkund (Haryana): An RTI activist has alleged that Nitin Gadkari did not want her to pursue the irrigation scam in Maharashtra, a charged dismissed as baseless on Thursday by the BJP president who slapped a legal notice accusing her of defaming him.

READ MORE: Charges against Gadkari blunts BJP’s attack  

RTI whistleblower Anjali Damania claimed that when she met Gadkari in Mumbai the BJP chief said he would not take a stand on irrigation scam since he had a business relationship with NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. Gadkari has denied that she had met him.
    
Damania, a member of India Against Corruption (IAC), at a news conference in Mumbai in the presence of Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday initially did not name Gadkari only alleging that "a president from the opposition party" from Maharashtra attempted to cover up the irrigation scam. Later, she named the BJP President and said she has met him thrice.
    
Damania had alleged that when she approached Gadkari to pursue the case against NCP leaders involved in the Rs 20,000 crore irrigation scam, he asked her not to go ahead.
    
She alleged that Gadkari told her he has business interests with Pawar and that they extend mutual help where required.
   
Gadkari served a legal notice on Damania for levelling allegations against him and refuting her charge that he has business relations with Pawar.

Gadkari’s counsel Shamshery & Associates served the legal notice on Gadkari’s behalf on Thursday.  In the notice, the lawyers have charged that Damania has given false statements to TV channels, which were also widely reported in newspapers.
"My client strongly denies the false, baseless and defamatory statement that he has any business relations with Sharad Pawar," the notice said while demanding that Damania retract her remarks and forthwith tender a public apology.
    
BJP rubbished the charge by Damania against Gadkari, alleging that the "dirty tricks" department of Congress is at work to derail the opposition's on-going national conclave.

"On the eve of BJP's national conclave a deliberate and planned effort is being made by the dirty tricks department of the Congress to defame Gadkari and to divert attention from the meet. We deny these baseless allegations," party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters in Surajkund where the party's National Council meet is underway, a day after the party’s National Executive meeting.
    
"There is only one case filed in the irrigation scam and that is a PIL filed by our party secretary Kirit Somaiya," Javadekar said.

Kejriwal said the Gadkari-Damania meeting did take place.

"This is unfortunate for the country. There is no opposition in the country. If the president of the biggest Opposition party has business links with the leaders inruling parties, then there is no difference between ruling and opposition parties," he said.

In New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi said that Gadkari should clarify on the allegations.

(Agencies)

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