Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar said Wednesday he planned to sue social activist Anna Hazare for defamation. The social activist grabbed headlines Tuesday due to a PIL filed by him that names Pawar and his nephew Ajit, among other political leaders in Maharashtra, accusing them of “conniving for a Rs 25,000-crore fraud in sugar cooperatives”.
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The petition alleges that a fraud had been committed in governance by first burdening the sugar cooperative factories with debts and thereafter selling these sick units at a throwaway price. This, it claims, has inflicted a Rs 25,000-crore loss to the government, and the cooperative sector in the state. The allegations pertain to the period when the Congress and the NCP were in power in the state, and the UPA in the Centre. Incidentally, NDA ally and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana leader Raju Shetti is a co-petitioner.
Pawar rubbished the allegations Thursday, claiming that he wasn’t even a part of the state government during the period being mentioned.
His party also targeted the activist. Party spokesman and former minister Nawab Malik alleged that Hazare was playing his role in the “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s conspiracy” to malign Pawar. “Why is he (Hazare) not protesting over any issue in the BJP-ruled Maharashtra,” Malik asked. Incidentally, Malik had to step down from his ministerial assignment in Maharashtra in 2005 following corruption allegations levelled by Hazare.
The NCP spokesman even dubbed Hazare as as “agent of the RSS”, and claimed that there was a larger conspiracy to defame NCP leaders ahead of the upcoming civic and rural polls in Maharashtra.
Hazare’s petition, meanwhile, has demanded a CBI inquiry into the “scam”. Among the evidence, the petition cites the observations made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India. It has demanded that cooperative mills, which have been “fraudulently” sold, be repossessed.