Continuing his attack on the BJP government over allegations of “Rs 4,000-crore scam in groundnut procurement”, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Paresh Dhanani on Monday sat on a day-long fast outside the old yard of Agriculture Produce Market Committee (APMC) in Rajkot city.
This is the fourth consecutive day that Dhanani has staged dharna at places where NAFED has either stored groundnut or jute bags.
Alleging a conspiracy behind stock of around 20 lakh empty jute bags catching fire on March 13 this year, Dhanani alleged that there were irregularities in purchase of jute bags. “They purchased sub-standard jute bags at high cost and then set them on fire to hide the scam,” Dhanani said as he sat on the dharna along with few Congress MLAs from Saurashtra.
The jute bags for packing procured groundnut were purchased by NAFED (National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited) for Rs 17 crore and were stored in sheds on the sub-yard.
Dhanani has been alleging that cooperative societies controlled by BJP supporters have been selectively engaged for operating groundnut procurement centres and groundnut of good quality was diverted to oil mills run by BJP supporters. He had staged dharna outside a groundnut godown in Gondal on Saturday and outside another godown in Shapar Veraval on Sunday. These godowns had caught fire on January 30 and May 6, damaging oilseed worth more than Rs32 crore.
“I suspect the scam points to even the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO). Good quality groundnut was diverted to oil-mills owned by BJP supporters. The millers extracted oil from groundnut and then send oil tins to fry bhajiya during the Assembly election. We have written to CM Vijay Rupani and the Governor, but no action has been taken. We have been demanding an inquiry by a sitting judge of High Court. If the government is all-clean, why does it hesitate to form an inquiry committee headed by a High Court judge,” Dhanani asked.
With groundnut godowns at Hapa in Jamangar and Gandhidham in Kutch also catching fire, Dhanani said that he would stage dharnas there also.
Meanwhile, an audio clip of a conversation purportedly between Managa Zalavadiya, GUJCOT’s Saurashtra zone manager, and a man from Junagadh went viral on social media on Monday. In the clip, Zalavadiya is heard purpotedly telling the man that he would ensure that no police complaint is filed in the Pedhla groundnut godown incident if those associated with the Moti Dhanej cooperative society were ready to strike a compromise. On July 31, traders alleged adulteration in 10,850 quintal of groundnut stored in a godown at Pedhla village of Jetpur taluka of Rajkot district.