New Delhi: Terming as ‘baseless’ the allegations made against him by Arvind Kejriwal, BJP president Nitin Gadkari wondered if there was a collusion between ruling Congress and India Against Corruption to divide the votes in a bid to occupy the opposition space.

Reacting after Kejriwal and others leveled allegations against him of getting land from Maharashtra government, Gadkari said he has been active in Vidharba region of the state as a "social enterprise" to prevent farmer suicides.

Talking specifically about the land in question, Gadkari said it was a "wasteland" given on lease to a charitable trust and was not owned by him as alleged.

"The allegations are baseless, wrong and unfortunate...I have been working in the area as a social enterprise for the benefit of farmers...The allegations of land (grabbing) are absurd. Land has been given on lease to a charitable trust which functions like a cooperative. It is not owned by me," Gadkari said.

Asked about the charges of quid pro quo and any "setting" between him and former Maharashtra Irrigation Minister Ajit Pawar, Gadkari said "Congress' image is going down due to corruption cases and they (IAC) are trying to defame BJP to occupy the opposition party space which belongs to us. This is a conspiracy of Congress and IAC to divide the opposition votes."  He refused to elaborate on this issue.

Asked if he was ready for a probe as demanded by Kejriwal, Gadkari said "I am ready for any kind of probe."

He claimed the land (about 100 acres) was a wasteland valued at only Rs 20 lakh. "The land has not been given to a private company or an individual. It is not personal."

Gadkari denied the allegation that all the water for the dams, which was meant for irrigation, is being diverted to his power plants.

"Only 0.85 percent of this dam water is being used for our power project and the rest goes to farmers for irrigation," he said.

He maintained only one farmer has been named by Kejriwal and he too is now engaged in farming on his own land.

He claimed the activist had never visited the area and was not aware of the ground realities. He said his power plant is located within the premises of his sugar factory.

The BJP chief said his party was the one which had "exposed" the irrigation scam in Maharashtra.

On his part, he said he has always been fighting for providing more water for irrigation and claimed to have written a number of letters to authorities in the interest of farmers.

"It is my mission (to help farmers) and not my profession," he said.

He, however, refused to make public any such letters as demanded by Kejriwal and fellow activist Anjali Damania.

Gadkari also claimed his charitable trust had provided 10 lakh saplings of sugarcane crop to farmers at subidised rates on the land in question.

(Agencies)

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