Seeds of political patronage

Seeds of political patronage

39 NGOs that were allotted Krishi Vigyan Kendras have connections with politicians

In the early 1970s,the agriculture ministry,through the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR),began setting up Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) or farm science centres to educate farmers to increase agricultural production and to improve their socio-economic condition. Over the years,a small but significant portion of them have ended up as an instrument of political favour,having been allotted to politicians across the spectrum or their friends and relatives,The Indian Express has found.

Information accessed through the RTI Act shows that of the 630 KVKs in the country,99 are run by non-governmental organisations. Of these 99,at least 39 are closely linked to politicians or their relatives if not directly controlled by them. The list also includes three KVKs run by NGOs belonging to former IAS officers known to be associated with politicians.

These institutions get generous grants from the government but the selection of NGOs,at least in the last decade,were apparently done through an opaque process criticised by agriculture ministry officials themselves.

The prominent names include Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar,Bihar Governor D Y Patil,former President Pratibha Patil’s son Rajendra Shekhawat – all of them from Maharashtra,incidentally — besides jailed former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala’s son Abhey and UP Congress MPs Sanjay Singh and Ratna Singh. One Tamil Nadu NGO was recommended by Congress treasurer Motilal Vora,former minister of state Gingee Ramachandran and others.


The Baramati NGO of which Pawar is a trustee was given a KVK in 1992. In the nearly nine years that he has been agriculture minister,his ministry has sanctioned about 300 KVKs,about two dozen of these to NGOs. A third of these two dozen were cornered by organisations belonging to politicians or recommended by them,including some from Pawar’s NCP. Government files show that Pawar personally intervened to recommend some of these NGOs,which got funds up to Rs 1.5 crore per year.

Of the 99 KVKs run by NGOs,25 are in Maharashtra,18 run by politicians or their relatives. Of the 39 run by NGOs with political links,20 are linked to Congress leaders,six to NCP leaders,and five to BJP leaders.

ICAR officials said the government does not publish advertisements inviting proposals to establish KVKs and only a handful of organisations apply. Rajiv Mehrishi,then additional secretary in the ministry,observed during a selection in 2010: “There is no public dissemination of this information. There is no public advertisement,for example,inviting offers from universities/colleges/NGOs who might want to sponsor the KVKs. As a result,there is an inherent bias in favour of the existing state agriculture universities,with the exception of few well connected and really clued up NGOs.”

After seeing the guidelines,Minister of State for Agriculture,Food and Public Distribution K V Thomas observed on the same file as Mehrishi: “I don’t find the guidelines are very comprehensive at all. Lot of ambiguities remain.”


Responding to queries sent by The Indian Express to Pawar,an ICAR official said the functioning of KVKs,including sanction and allotment of funds,is transparent and as per well laid procedures. “There exist guidelines to manage/approve KVKs entitled ‘A Guide for the KVK Managers’ dealing inter alia. By way of evolutionary process,certain process changes have been made in the guidelines over the years in certain areas. For updating further the guidelines for KVKs a high-powered committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Dr R S Paroda,former secretary (DARE) and Director General,ICAR,” the official said.

“For establishment of KVKs,the concerned zonal project directorates have nowadays been issuing notifications on websites. Application received from various organisations,including NGOs,are considered by site selection committee and based on the recommendations .. appropriate decisions are taken by the competent authority.”


The first Krishi Vigyan Kendra was established in Pondicherry in 1974 and there are 630 around the country now,with 99 being run by NGOs. They get government funds up to Rs 1.5 crore a year depending on the size of the district they are located in. The KVKs aim to educate farmers to increase agricultural production and to improve their socio-economic condition. Below is the list of 39 KVKs run by NGOs controlled by politicians,their relatives or others close to them:

Baramati (Maharashtra)

NGO: Agriculture Development Trust Political link: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar is a trustee

Date of sanction: 1992

Kolhapur (Maharashtra)

NGO: D Y Patil Education Society; Political link: Congress leader D Y Patil,currently governor of Bihar

Date of sanction: 1994

Amravati (Maharashtra)

NGO: Shram Sadhana

Political link: Rajendra Shekhawat,Congress MLA and son of former President Pratibha Patil

Date of sanction: 1995

Aurangabad (Maharashtra)

NGO: Mahatma Gandhi Mission

Political link: Kamal Kishore Kadam,Maharashtra higher education minister when Sharad Pawar was chief minister

Date of sanction: 2011

Ahmednagar (Maharashtra)

NGO: Marutrao Ghule Patil Shikshan Sansthan

Political link: Chandrashekhar Marutrao Ghule,NCP MLA

Date of sanction: 2011

Akola (Maharashtra)

NGO: Rural Development and Research Foundation

Political link: Sanjay Dhotre,BJP Lok Sabha MP from Akola

Date of sanction: 2010

Latur (Maharashtra)

NGO: Manjara Charitable Trust

Political link: Late former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh’s family

Date of sanction: 2005

Hingoli (Maharashtra)

NGO: Sant Namdeo Sewabhavi Sanstha

Political link: Shivaji G Mane,former Shiv Sena MP and now NCP leader

Date of sanction: 2002

Amravati (Maharashtra)

NGO: Shram Safalya Foundation

Political link: Vasudhatai Deshmukh,former state minister

Date of sanction: 1995

Sindhudurg (Maharashtra)

NGO: Sindhudurg Zila Krishi Pratisthan

Political link: Chairman Sudhir Sawant is Congress MLC and former MP

Date of sanction: 1995

Nanded (Maharashtra)


Political link: Former Rajya Sabha MP from Congress V M Jadhav

Date of sanction: 1994

Parbhani (Maharashtra)

NGO: Jeevan Jyoti Charitable Trust

Political link: Chairman Laxmitai Deshmukh,wife of former Congress MP Ashokrao Deshmukh

Date of sanction: 1994

Washim (Maharashtra)

NGO: Suvide Foundation

Political link: President Anantrao Vithalrao Deshmukh,former MP

Date of sanction: 1994

Buldhana (Maharashtra)

NGO: Satpuda Education Society

Political link: K G Ingle,former Congress MLA and now NCP leader

Date of sanction: 1994

Sangli (Maharashtra)

NGO: Vasant Prakash Vikas Sansthan

Political link: Chaiperson Shailaja Patil,wife of former Congress MP Prakash Patil and daughter-in-law of former CM Vasantdada Patil

Date of sanction: 1992

Thane (Maharashtra)

NGO: Gokhale Education Society

Political link: Vice-president of society is former MP S N Deshmukh

Date of sanction: 1976

Jalgaon (Maharashtra)

NGO: Satpuda Vikas Mandal

Political link: Shireesh Madhukar Rao Choudhary,former NCP leader and now independent MLA

Date of sanction: 1984

Ahmednagar (Maharashtra)


Political link: Former union minister and Congress leader Balasaheb Vikhe Patil

Date of sanction: 1992

Sitapur (UP)

NGO: Ranvir Rananjay Degree College Association,Amethi

Political link: Dr Sanjay Singh,Congress MP from Sultanpur

Date of sanction: 2011

Pratapgarh (UP)

NGO: Raja Avdhesh Singh Memorial Society

Political link: Ratna Singh,Congress MP from Pratapgarh

Date of sanction: 1999

Unnao (UP)

NGO: Kunwar Ram Bux Education Society

Political link: Ramesh Kumar Singh,state BJP leader

Date of sanction: 1999

Sultanpur (UP)

NGO: Kamla Nehru Memorial Trust

Political link: Vinod Singh,former minister in BSP government and son of former Congress union minister K N Singh

Date of sanction: 1976

Ariyalur (Tamil Nadu)


Political link: Recommended by then MoS Gingee Ramachandran,MPs S K Kharventhan,Vasanthy Stanley,Motilal Vora and R D Athithan

Date of sanction: 2009

Karur (Tamil Nadu)

NGO: Saraswati Krishi Vigyan Kendra

Political link: Chairperson R Latha is wife of late K N Ramajayam,brother of former DMK minister K N Nehru

Date of sanction: 2005

Erode (Tamil Nadu)

NGO: Myrada (Bangalore)

Political link: Retired IAS officers known to be close to politicians; Arvind G Risbud is executive director,three other retired officers on board

Date of sanction: 1991

Belgaum (Karnataka)

NGO: KLE University

Political link: Chancellor Prabhakar B Kore is a BJP Rajya Sabha member

Date of sanction: 2011

Belgaum (Karnataka)


Political link: Chairman R M Patil,former Karnataka minister

Date of sanction: 1994

Gadag (Karnataka)

NGO: Agriculture Science Foundation

Political link: Former Congress MLA D R Patil is governing council member

Date of sanction: 1985

Burhanpur (MP)

NGO: Lokmata Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Social National Mission

Political link: Hamid Qazi,former NCP MLA

Date of sanction: 2007

Raisen (MP)

NGO: Deendayal Krishi Vikas Kendra

Political link: Chairman Ajit Khandelwal said to be close to BJP

Date of sanction: 2004

Ratlam (MP)

NGO: Shiksha Samiti Kalukheda

Political link: Chairman Mahendra Singh Kalukheda,Congress MLA

Date of sanction: 1994

Bishnupur (Manipur)

NGO: Joint Farming-cum-Pisciculture

Co-operative Society

Political link: Th. Chaoba Singh,former chief minister and current Manipur BJP president

Date of sanction: 2003

Senapati (Manipur)


Political link: Haokholet Kipgen,former MLA from National People’s Party

Date of sanction: 2002

Jaipur (Rajasthan)

NGO: Pragati Trust

Political link: Former chief secretary of Rajasthan Mitha Lal Mehta

Date of sanction: 1992

Hanumangarh (Rajasthan)

NGO: Gramothan Vidyapith

Political link: Om Prakash Chautala’s son Abhey Singh Chautala is president of the NGO

Date of sanction: 1989

Rewari (Haryana); NGO

Bhagawat Bhakti Ashram

Political link: Rao Sheoraj Singh,brother of late Rao Veerendra Singh,former CM

Date of sanction: 1983

Ambala (Haryana)


Political link: Akhil Baxi,who was close to Congress

Date of sanction: 1995

Sitamarhi (Bihar)

NGO: Samta Sewa Kendra

Political link: Nawal Kishore Rai,former Janata Dal (United) MP

Date of sanction: 2006

Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh)

NGO: Bhagavatula Charitable Trust

Political link: President of trust is PVRK Prasad,retired IAS officer who served as media adviser to late prime minister P V Narasimha Rao

Date of sanction: 1995


Some instances of Sharad Pawar DECIDING or influencing

allotment of KVKs since 2004:

Aurangabad (Maharashtra): A site selection panel had recommended sanctioning the KVK to Marathwada Agriculture University. Pawar rejected the suggestion and wrote on the file,“We should give this KVK to Mahatma Gandhi Mission. I am confident their performance will be better.” The mission got the KVK in July 2009. It belongs to Kamal Kishore Kadam,a former Maharashtra minister and NCP leader.

Ahmednagar (Maharashtra): The site selection panel had recommended the Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth. Pawar advised that “other options need to be explored”. The KVK was later given to Marutrao Ghule Patil Shikshan Sansthan,run by NCP MLA Chandrashekhar Marutrao Ghule,with Pawar approving the proposal on August 29,2011.

Sitapur (UP): On February 23,2011,Pawar approved a KVK for Ranvir Rananjay Degree College Association,Amethi,run by Sanjay Singh,Congress MP from Sultanpur. The proposal had been made only on February 8,and came with a handwritten note from a bureaucrat and marked “urgent”. The site selection panel picked this over three other proposals.

Akola (Maharashtra): On May 13,2010,Pawar approved a KVK to be run by the Rural Development and Research Foundation,whose president is BJP MP Sanjay Dhotre. The name was picked by the site selection panel from a list of nine.

Belgaum (Karnataka): KLE University,whose chancellor Prabhakar B Kore is a BJP Rajya Sabha member,got a KVK. It had been recommended in response to a proposal from the University of Agricultural Sciences,Dharwad. When the file was sent to the DG,ICAR,he wrote on it,“as discussed with Hon’ble AM (agriculture minister),case may be kept pending for a while”. Subsequently,Pawar wrote “put up early” on a letter written by Kore. A new site selection panel was formed after the issue was “discussed with Hon’ble AM and PS to Hon’ble AM” and Pawar sanctioned the KVK to KLE.

Sitamarhi (Bihar): On February 1,2006,Pawar sanctioned a KVK to Samta Sewa Kendra of former JD(U) MP Nawal Kishore Rai. Rai had been making representations to agriculture ministers since 1996,seeking a KVK for the district. Later,he sought it for his NGO; Pawar approved it.

Ariyalur(Tamil Nadu): On January 3,2008,Pawar sanctioned a KVK to the NGO Creed after its case was recommended by then minister of state Gingee Ramachandran,MPs Vasanthy Stanley and Motilal Vora and then MPs R D Athithan and S K Kharventahan.

Heights of worship

Jayalalithaa’s proposal for a towering statue of Mother Tamil is part of a trend. A look at the statue obsession from around the country

Mother Tamil

133 ft+,likely Madurai

Statues are not new to Tamil Nadu politics. Long before J Jayalalithaa’s proposal,late chief minister M G Ramachandran had unveiled a statue of Tamil Thai,or Mother Tamil,in Madurai in 1981. And in 2000,then chief minister M Karunanidhi inaugurated a massive statue of saint-poet Thiruvalluvar off the coast of Kanyakumari. Standing 133 feet tall,its weight around 7,000 tonnes,it cost Rs 6 crore and took nine years to complete.

But the one that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa proposed in the assembly on Tuesday will dwarf all of them in terms of cost: Rs 100 crore. It is reportedly coming up at Vandiyur lake (artist’s impression pictured),spread across nearly 600 acres in Madurai. Officials have made it known that the Statue of Mother Tamil,sculpted out of stone,will be taller than the Thiruvalluvar statue. Jaya’s own example by way of comparison was the Statue of Liberty,which stands 151 ft inclusive of the pedestal. The torso of the proposed statue is a familiar design found in south Indian temple architecture.


Up to 24ft,Lucknow & Noida

Express Opinion

Mayawati installed 18 statues of herself,13 in Lucknow and five in Noida,during her regime as UP chief minister. Those in Lucknow include five on the same campus,that of Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sthal. Two white marble 18-foot ones,each built at Rs 2 crore,are inside Stupa Bhawan,a 24-foot bronze statue (Rs 1.55 crore) is at Pratibimb Sthal,an 18-foot bronze (Rs 47.25 lakh) is in Samajik Parivartan Gallery barely 100 m away ,while yet another bronze is in the main memorial building.

Other statues in Lucknow include one at Gomti embankment (marble,7 feet,Rs 9 lakh),one at Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Prateek Stahl (bronze,12 feet,Rs 20.25 lakh),and one at Kanshiram Smarak Sthal (18 feet,Rs 47.25 lakh).

In Noida,two statues are inside Gautam Buddha University and one inside Bhimrao Ambedkar Park in Badalpur,where Mayawati hails from. Two are inside Noida Park,one under the main dome and the other at Column Plaza.


321 ft,Mumbai

The plan to build a mid-sea memorial to the warrior king (artist’s impression left) has been afloat since in 2004. It is a Congress-NCP initiative to upstage the Shiv Sena in wooing the Maratha community,but even Raj Thackeray of the MNS has questioned the project’s financial feasibility.

A design submitted in 2009 by Mumbai’s Team One firm and Bangkok’s Bensley Design Studio places the 321-foot memorial (including the pedestal) 1.5 km off Marine Drive,and spread on 8 to 10 acres of reclaimed land in the sea. Shivaji’s statue astride a horse would come up on a 2060 ft × 820 ft platform. Around it would be a museum depicting Shivaji’s life,a performing arts theatre,a cultural event area,a 300-foot viewing tower,a revolving restaurant and open spaces in the middle of the sea. People would be able to access the monument through a water transport system,including various vessels and hovercraft,from areas such as the Gateway of India,Marine Drive,JNPT and Navi Mumbai.

Sardar Patel

597 ft,Narmada


This one is tipped to be the tallest of them all,twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty and also dwarfing the Spring Temple Buddha (420 ft). The statue (artist’s impression left) has been proposed at Sadhu Bet,an island some 3 km from Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat. Chief Minister Narendra Modi had announced the construction of the statue in October 2010,calling it “the tallest memorial of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in the world” and that it would help spread the message of harmony to the world. The government created a special purpose vehicle,Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Rashtriya Ekta Trust,for execution of the project,and in August 2012 it entered into an agreement with a consortium of global and domestic consultants for engineering,design and contract management. The preliminary design is currently being made. The estimated cost is Rs 2,500 crore,though that may be revised after studies.

— Reporting by Gopu Mohan,Lalmani Verma,

Zeeshan Shaikh and Kumar Anand