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Patanjali’s CEO challenges anyone to find anything shady in FMCG giant’s land dealings

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Opposition parties have, on many occasions, accused some BJP-ruled states of giving land to Patanjali at rates much cheaper than their market value.

New Delhi: Baba Ramdev’s consumer products business, Patanjali Ayurved — in the eye of a storm for acquiring land at throwaway prices in some BJP-ruled states — has hit back at critics saying charges of favouritism are baseless.

“I challenge everyone to name a project and we will have details. We have followed official procedures in buying land and the charges of favouritism are baseless,” Acharya Balakrishna, chief executive officer of Patanjali Ayurved, told ThePrint.

“We take pride in being a self-sufficient brand and our company ethics does not allow us to seek favours,” he added.

Opposition parties have, on many occasions, accused some BJP-ruled states of giving land to Patanjali at rates much cheaper than their market value.

For instance, in December last year, the BJP-led Maharashtra government allegedly gave 230 acres of land to the company for a food park in the non-SEZ area of the Multi-modal International Cargo Hub and Airport in Nagpur (MIHAN), incurring a loss of Rs 209 crore to the exchequer.

In another case, the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority was asked by the Allahabad High Court to provide all records showing details of allotment of land to Patanjali Ayurved’s project in Noida’s food park.

Balakrishna, who made it to 19th position — with a net worth of $6.55 billion (around Rs 43,000 crore) — in the Forbes magazine’s Annual India Rich List 2017, labelled the charges as “foul play” by rivals.

“In Maharashtra’s (MIHAN) case, the land was allotted to us through an open tendering procedure,” he said.

“Noida’s food park was allotted to us during the tenure of the Samajwadi Party, hence there is no connection with the BJP,” Balakrishna added.

According to Patanjali, the company started growing during Congress-led UPA’s tenure.

“We started growing during the UPA’s term. Our strength as a brand developed when Congress was the ruling party,” Balakrishna said.

He, however, admits the Modi government’s “business friendly” policies have also helped in Patanjali’s growth.

“The BJP has induced a business-friendly climate in India. Unlike the previous government, we feel that there is an ease of doing businesses in the country,” Balakrishna said.

He also claimed that the Congress tried to malign the reputation of Baba Ramdev and Patanjali. “We were trapped by the UPA government and the intention was to defame us,” he said.

“However, consumers have understood this and they have reposed their trust in our products.”

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