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May 29, 2011

Page: 26/37

Home > 2011 Issues > May 29, 2011

Corruption trail of Gehlot and his family
By Lokpal Sethi in Jaipur

UNEARTHING of one after another documents in the second week of April,have exposed the misdeeds of son, son-in-law and daughter of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who over the years had successfully cut out his image of a Gandhian. His simplicity and spartan lifestyle, never allowed his detractors to doubt his integrity and honesty. Now his Gandhian mask has been dented as documents reveals that he had helped his kin to amass huge wealth.

This all started some time in January when Rajesh Yadava, young Collector of Ajmer, in his capacity as chairman of Urban Improvement Trust, allotted a prime piece of land, market values of which was estimated around Rs 200 crore at a throw away price of about Rs 65 lakh to a controversial housing society. This was done at the behest of Vaibhav Gehlot, a brief less of lawyer of Rajasthan High Court and only son of Ashok Gehlot. In fact junior Gehlot camped in Ajmer for several days to ensure the smooth transaction of the land. As this housing society was in limelight for wrong reasons during the past many years, allotment of nearly 26 bighas of land to it became known immediately

As budget session of the Assembly was to start in couple of weeks, Gehlot was sure that main Opposition, BJP would attack on him for this scandal , he ordered to cancel the sale to pre-empt any move from other side on this issue. Infact Devkrishan Devnani,BJP legislator from Ajmer had already given a notice of call attention motion. But it went unnoticed that Gehlot delayed the action calculatively, giving enough time to the management of the society to obtain stay order from the court.

For the first time ruling party did not allowed to run the Assembly over a petty issue and one month session was abruptly ended just in 12 days. This was done under a strategy not to allow the Opposition to raise this issue and other deeds of his kin in the house

But at that time Gehlot was hardly aware that Opposition would soon unearth more skeletons from his cupboard and he would have to face one of the worst political situation in his thirty year long political carrier.

Some documents were in circulation in second week of April, which were showing how favour was done to certain companies by the Gehlot government which had made junior Gehlot as its legal consultant. On April 14 a private TV channel blow the lid by splashing these documents which revealed how these companies were given preferential treatments in allotment of projects worth several hundred crores.

As this was not enough, Kirit Somaiya, national secretary of BJP and in-charge for Rajasthan, through RTI, obtained details of allotment of a project to a Mumbai based Kalpataru Group, owned by Moftraj Munot, in which Gehlot’s daughter Sonia and son-in-law Gautam are in its board of directors.

With the making of these documents public by the BJP, Gehlot had no explanation but to admit that he had relations with Munots, who belong to Pipar City , near Jodhpur, the home district of Gehlot. But he tried to prove that despite his closeness to Munots, he has not done any favour to their companies.

Just before the Assembly elections, Om Metals, a Jaipur based company, having many businesses, hired the services of junior Gehlot as legal consultant, whose practice as lawyer never took off. Kotharis, owner of the company were sure that it would be the turn of Congress to rule the State for next five years, so they had already made their moves in the right direction to get close to Ashok Gehlot.

According to these documents, in May 2010, the company was awarded a contract worth Rs 457 crores to build a dam on river Kalisindh near Kota . According to Om Birla, BJP legislator from Kota, original cost of the project was only Rs 200 crore. But technical specifications were changed to increase the cost of the project and at the same time some term of the bid were changed , to suit Om Metals to get the contract.

Though main business of the company was to build hydro power projects, it was also awarded a contract of Rs 250 crore to build a State highway between Jaipur and Bhilwara. The company is also perusing several other mega projects including a high rising building close to the State secretariat in the capital.

In July 2009, one Triton Hotels and Resorts, hired the services of Vaibhav. With in a month company was alloted nearly 10,000 meters of agriculture land on Jaipur – Delhi national highway, to convert it for commercial use. Normally this kind of conversion is not very easy. It take years to get the land and that too after heavily paying to government babus.

Around that time Vaibhav also sold 50 per cent stake of his small time taxi company Sunlight Tours and Travels at an unspecified amount to Ratan Kant Sharma, one of the director of Triton Hotels and Resorts.

Though junior Gehlot was just a legal consultant to the company , he was often seen at the site, where five start hotel was coming up. “ That showed the deep interest of Gehlots in the project” says Dr. Hari Singh, vice president of Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee and a known baiter of Gehlot in the party

Sonia, Gehlot’s architect daughter, during her professional studies in Pune and Mumbai had stayed with Munots in their Mumbai house. After her studies, she was employed by Kalpataru Group. After her inter caste marriage with Gautam Ankhad( Jain), she settled in Mumbai

Kalpataru Group floated another company Shouri Constructions, which owned certain properties in posh Lal Baug area of Mumbai. Sonia and Gautam were made directors of this company and were given a up market flat, costing about Rs 8 crore to the couple just for Rs2.6 lakh. For unknown reasons Sonia resigned as director of the company in February. Moftraj’s son Parag and Gautam continued as directors of the company..

In his second inning as Chief Minister, Kalpataru Group was awarded several projects in Rajasthan . Controversial Jal Mahal project was also allowed its expansion.

As per the documents, Shubham Logistics, a subsidy of Kalpataru Group, enterd into an agreement with profit making State Warehousing Corporation through Swiss Challenge method to utilise land belonging to the Corporation

According to Somaiya, then came the Adrash Society and 2 Scam. Munots used their closeness with Gehlot to persue the Maharashtra government to made them available a prime piece of defense land in Kadiwali for its Neo Pharma Ltd. Gehlot and two Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmuch and Ashok Chavan were part of this scam. Defense land was forcibly acquired by Collector of Mumbai and than was sold to Neo Pharma as per the complaint lodged by Col Vineet Singh the then Public Information Officer of Defense Ministry posted at Mumbai.

Last year, when Gehlot made several trips to Mumbai, hush talks were going in corridors of power that he was trying to help Munots to get this land.

During the first term of his father as Chief Minister, junior Gehlot never projected himself as son of big man. But in the second inning, he is no more a shy person . He has become high flyer and could be seen mingling with big guns of the corporate sector.

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