Small Change-Chillar Matter by H Janardan_Prabhu


									Rookie politician Arvind Kejriwal has taken on critics - including the BJP -
who said that his "expose" of the party president Nitin Gadkari has been

Yesterday, after Mr Kejriwal and his supporters publicly declared that Mr
Gadkari had grabbed land and water in Maharashtra from some of the
poorest farmers in the country, the BJP president described the allegations
as "chillar" (small change). "These chillar statements don't deserve
importance, I am ready for any investigation," Mr Gadkari said, while
denouncing Mr Kejriwal's charges.

Mr Kejriwal retorted today that what has been revealed so far against Mr
Gadkari is the tip of the iceberg. "For Gadkari, it may be small change, but
the farmers who lost their land and water.. for them it isn't small change...
they are committing suicide," he said.

Mr Kejriwal also targeted the Congress for a similar remark. Earlier this
week, senior minister Beni Prasad Verma said that no minister would
embezzle "just 71 lakhs." His comment was made in defence of his
colleague, Law Minister Salman Khurshid, whose NGO in Uttar Pradesh is
being investigated for allegedly embezzling Rs. 71 lakh meant to help the
state's differently-abled. Mr Khurshid has rejected the charges against him,
which are being studied by the state government.

"When we unearth a scam of the Congress they say it's 'chillar'; now the
BJP says these charges are "chillar'," Mr Kejriwal said.

Mr Kejriwal has been demanding Mr Khurshid's dismissal. Yesterday, he
shifted focus along with other members of India Against Corruption, a civil
society group, and cited documents that show that show that in 2008, Mr
Gadkari sought - and was granted - nearly 100 acres of land in
Maharashtra's Vidarbha region. They say that the land was given to Mr
Gadkari in violation of the rules by Ajit Pawar, who was then Irrigation
Minister. The land had been acquired by the state from farmers to build a
dam. It turned out that more land than needed had been taken over.
Farmers asked for the surplus land to be sold back to them, or to be leased
to them. And the rules say that the Irrigation Department cannot transfer
land owned by it to a private corporation. Yet, Mr Gadkari received the land
he had asked for in two installments.

He says that the land was leased to a charitable trust associated with his
company, the Purti Group, for 11 years with an annual rent of Rs. 70,000.
"The BJP said they were doing social work there. But the government didn't
allot land for that purpose. The allotment doesn't say anything about public
cause," Mr Kejriwal said.

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