Mumbai: In the backdrop of the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) probe into the lease of a sugar mill to a company with links to Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Chandrakant Patil has flagged 30 more such sugar factories with possible transactional irregularities to Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Pawar has also requested for an enquiry into the sale of these factories .
The letter dated 3 July, of which ThePrint has accessed a copy, has, however, brought much embarrassment to the BJP, as Patil’s list also contained names of two factories with links to senior party leader Nitin Gadkari’s family.
Patil has alleged that the Maharashtra State Cooperative (MSC) Bank auctioned the 30 sugar mills that he has flagged at throwaway rates to relatives of directors of the bank.
Of these, two factories — Mahatma Sarkari Sakhar Karkhana and Wainganga Sarkari Sakhar Karkhana — were purchased by Mahatma Sugar and Power Limited and Wainganga Sugar and Power Limited, respectively.
Sarang Gadkari, Union Minister Gadkari’s son, is a director in both Mahatma Sugar and Wainganga Sugar companies. Gadkari’s other son, Nikhil, is also a director in Wainganga Sugar.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Patil said, he had merely relied on a list that was given to the Bombay High Court a few years ago, when a writ petition was filed over the alleged irregularities in the sale of certain sugar mills by the MSC Bank.
“I only quoted that list and told Amitbhai that all these should be probed. In that list two factories have been purchased by Nitinji Gadkari saheb. About seven-eight years ago when this writ was filed in the court, Nitinji had clarified about this that he paid a much higher amount for the factories than the price decided by the bank. However, he himself has said that he is open to any probe,” Patil said.
“Just to hide their own offences, it is not right (of the other parties) to highlight these two factories of Gadkariji out of a long list,” he added.
The MSC Bank case
The ED has been probing irregularities in the functioning of the MSC Bank since 2019 and had registered a case of money laundering against Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president Sharad Pawar, his nephew Ajit Pawar, and several other leaders such as the Shiv Sena’s Anandrao Adsul, Peasants and Workers Party’s Jayant Patil, the Congress’ Diliprao Deshmukh and Madan Patil, and the NCP’s Ishwarlal Jain and Rajendra Shingane
The ED has alleged irregularities in loan disbursements by the MSC Bank to co-operative sugar factories, adding that the loans were sanctioned despite the factories having weak financial conditions, in many cases without any collateral. The factories were then shown to be sick and allegedly sold to close relatives of certain politicians.
Last week, the ED attached properties worth Rs 65.75 crore of Satara-based Jarandeshwar Sahakari Sakhar Karkhana while probing the case. The agency has alleged that the funds used to buy the sugar mill were routed through another company, which received the money from Sparkling Soil Private Limited in which Ajit Pawar and his wife Sunetra Pawar are majority shareholders.
Following the ED’s action against a firm linked to Ajit Pawar, BJP’s Patil shot off a letter to Amit Shah asking for a similar inquiry into the sale of other sugar mills too.
The letter stated, “The present state government of Maharashtra is trying to protect Minister who were the then directors of the MSC Bank….I hereby enclosed list of other Sahakari Sugar Karkhanas who have been screened by the Honourable High Court for further suitable actions by the ED.” (sic)
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)