In an affidavit filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation DIG Manish Kumar Sinha in the Supreme Court on Monday challenging his transfer, he dragged four high-profile names into the ongoing CBI feud. And one of them was Union minister Haribhai Chaudhary who has been accused of receiving “a few crore rupees”.
Haribhai Chaudhary, 63, was introduced by the BJP in Banskantha district in the 1990s to challenge the cult-like influence of Congress leader Parthibhai Chaudhary.
“Congress was very strong in Banaskantha district with the leadership of powerful cooperative sector leader Parthibhai Chaudhary and state Congress leader B K Gadhvi,” said a senior BJP leader.
Haribhai, who didn’t rise from the ranks, entered the Lok Sabha in 1998 and went on to become Parliamentarian for three more times in the elections held in 1999, 2013 and 2014.
A diamantaire from Palanpur, Haribhai initially worked for a diamond company in Mumbai. His political elevation was seen as a huge boost to the diamond industry centred in Palanpur and Surat.
Chaudharys are a powerful and politically influential OBC community from North Gujarat. They are also known as Aanjna Patels in Gujarat. Haribhai Chaudhary rose to the level of vice-president in Gujarat BJP.
But his political career was not always looking up. He lost two successive Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2009 when the Congress-led UPA came to power.
In June 2013, Chaudhary was nominated to fight by-election in Banaskantha constituency after the death of Congress MP Mukesh Gadhvi, the son of BK Gadhvi. And he won. In 2014, he was again re-elected.
Haribhai was the Minister of State (MoS) for Home in the Narendra Modi government till July 2016. As MoS Home, he had key responsibilities of the Internal Security division, Left-Wing Extremism Division and the Centre-State Division.
Haribhai was then allotted the portfolio of Minister of State for Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME), and later was made the MoS for Coal & Mines.
In his declaration of assets on the website of Prime Minister’s Office, Haribhai and his spouse jointly own assets worth around Rs 1.57 crore. He holds commercial land measuring 150 square foot at Bharat Diamond Bourse in Bandra of Mumbai. The land bought in 1991 for Rs 8,32,839 has a current market value of Rs 22 lakh.
The couple has two sons and a daughter. His sons, sources said, handle his diamond business in Mumbai.