Hit by raids, Nitin Gadkari threatens I-T officials

NAGPUR (TIP): A day after BJP’s parliamentary board replaced him with UP leader Rajnath Singh as the next party chief following income tax action against firms linked to the Purti Group, an unfazed Nitin Gadkari instead threatened tax officials. Far from chastened by his sudden exit as BJP chief, Gadkari took on I-T officials, CBI, media and Congress as he hit out in all directions. “When BJP comes to power at the Centre, we will not spare any of them,” he said referring to I-T officials. Back on home turf, Gadkari warned officials that “There will no Sonia and Chidambaram to help you when BJP wins the next election in 2014”, accusing the UPA government of using the I-T department to fabricate cases against him. Holding the Centre responsible for the I-T action against Purti that triggered a last-minute revolt against him just as a second term as BJP president was in his grasp, he said officials should remember Congress is a sinking boat. “There’s only one ruler in Congress and others are her servants,” said Gadkari. In a show of defiance and petulance that might be more common in civic politics, the former BJP president said, “Mard hoon, dekh loonga. (I am a man, I will see you). I-T department yaad rakhe, BJP ki sarkar ayegi tab kahan jaoge…na Sonia rahegi na Chidambaram bachane ke liye.” A modest crowd of party workers, led by state party president Sudhir Mugantiwar, local MLAs and functionaries braved modest showers the orange city received on Thursday to try and boost the sagging spirits of their leader who is an MLC in the state legislature. “As BJP president, I had to maintain dignity and exercise restraint.

Now, I am a free man,” said Gadkari while addressing the gathering unmindful of a huge traffic jam the rally caused close to the airport approach road. For about 90 minutes, not a single vehicle could move on the road. Clearly smarting from the I-T surveys being deftly used by his detractors in the party to seek a change in leadership on the ground that this is needed to control damage to BJP, Gadkari alternated between bluster and protestations of innocence. This is the second time Gadkari threatened action against I-T officials. Last year when the department had launched a probe to find the source of funding in Purti Group companies, he had leveled similar charges. “Earlier the Congress used the CBI to settle political scores, now it has started using I-T officials too,” he alleged. “I know how they are hatching conspiracies against me sitting in Delhi, Nagpur and Pune… I also know their names.

Some people in the organization who are sympathetic to me and the BJP have told me about this,” he said. Gadkari said it was a political conspiracy to malign his image. “False allegations were made against me with issues that I had nothing to do with.

I am going to fight it out till I come clean,” he said. Targeting the English media, he said a simple letter written to the government seeking release of funds for the Gosikhurd project was seen as favouring contractors. “Similarly when I took up project to provide cheap houses to industrial workers at Butibori, one TV channel said I had turned a builder. Nobody has the right to indulge in character assassination,” said Gadkari. The deposed BJP president got the support of Congress MP Vijay Darda, an old friend. “Gadkari is like a tiger, he did not compromise with his honour. Ups and downs keep happening in politics.

He is one leader who has worked hard for Vidarbha,” Darda said. Referring to Gadkari as “mere azeez mitr (my dear friend)”, Darda added, “In the coming days we will work shoulder-to-shoulder.” Present on the dais were Congress MLA from Saoner Sunil Kedar, city BJP MLA Devendra Fadnavis, former BJP MP Banwarilal Puruhit, Chandrapur MP Hansraj Ahir, Chhattisgarh agriculture minister Chandrakant Sahu and several other zilla parishad presidents. SHIMLA (TIP): Congress

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