Congress pricks Gadkari on aide's firm, but BJP rejects allegations
| Nov. 25, 2017, 9:11 a.m.
New Delhi, Nov 25: The Congress on Friday alleged that a company owned by Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's personal secretary Vaibhav Dange has been getting funds from his own ministry and other PSUs and demanded he come clean on it. The BJP rejected the charges as "baseless".
The Congress also alleged that this "scam" was linked to other alleged irregularities by BJP leaders, including its president Amit Shah's son Jay Shah and conflict of interest in (National Security Advisor Ajit Doval's son) Shaurya Doval's India Foundation.
It also targeted Union Ministers Gadkari and Suresh Prabhu, accusing them of conflict of interest for allegedly being part of the national executive committee of the Indian Federation of Green Energy (IFGE), owned by Gadkari's aide.
The Congress asked how Gadkari had permitted the Shipping Ministry as well as PSUs to participate in and financially contribute to IFGE, partly owned by Dange, who floated it on October 9, 2014, and owns a 50 per cent stake in it.
It also questioned how a company, which started in October 2014 with a capital of Rs 1 lakh only and zero cash and zero corpus, has built up a corpus of Rs 1.33 crore.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh asked: "The IFGE organises conclaves and programmes in tandem with PSUs and ministries under Gadkari's control and receives financial contributions. The firm also receives contributions from private individuals, corporate entities sponsoring these events and those who deal directly with ministries under Gadkari.
"This becomes even more serious as Dange deals directly with all ministries and public sector undertakings related issues as also private entities in his capacity as private secretary to the Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister.
"Even today (November 24) IFGE is organizing a conference on 'Ethanol As a Transport Fuel' in partnership with Centre Institute of Road Transport under Ministry of Transport at Pune.
Noting that even earlier similar conferences were organized in league with the Transport and other ministries, Ramesgh asked whether this was not a "conflict of interest" and if Dange had not violated the Central Civil Service Conduct Rules, which prohibit a public servant from accepting contributions and associating with raising of any funds or collections or cash.
BJP spokesperson G. V. L. Narasimha Rao rejected the allegations, saying that Congress was "rattled by the ever-rising popularity" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and "has been repeatedly trying to malign the government's image by making baseless allegations".
Terming these allegations "one such futile attempt", he said Dange himself has refuted these allegations in a detailed written statement "rejecting imagined conflict of interest formulation of the Congress".
Terming the Congress' repeated attempts in making allegations "in the hope that something would stick" a sign of its desperation, he said the only effect would be the erosion of the opposition party's credibility.