New Delhi: A day after BJP chief Nitin Gadkari alleged that Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Manikrao Thakre had duped sugarcane farmers in Yavatmal, the MPCC chief alleged that a firm associated with Gadkari had cheated 23 farmers of Chandrapur of their land.

According to Thakre, 23 farmers of Usegaon in Chandrapur were asked for land for sugarcane farming. Their land was kept as collateral to raise a loan of Rs 35 lakh. In 2004-05, Purti Sugar Co-operative entered into a deal with Satyam Engineering Consultants for Rs 26 lakh to set up a lift irrigation project in the village. However, the work was not completed and farmers were left in the lurch.

“He (Gadkari) says that he works for Vidarbha farmers. How many times has he raised their issue in the legislature? How many times has he attended the proceedings,” Thakre questioned.

Recently, media reports have raised questions over the source of funds for Purti Power and Sugar Ltd controlled by Gadkari. Media investigations claim that major investments and large loans to Purti were made by a construction firm Ideal Road Builders (IRB) group, which had won contracts between 1995 and 1999, when Gadkari was PWD minister in Maharashtra.

Gadkari quit as chairman of Purti last year. He now holds about 200 shares in the group.    He has denied that some of the 18 investor firms in Purti are front companies.


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