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Mayank Gandhi Chira Bazaar Scam

Arvind Kejriwal’s close aide accused of dubious role in Mumbai land deal

Mumbai:  This evening, Arvind Kejriwal, rookie politician, has promised to out another powerful person who, in his opinion, needs to explain dubious deals that leveraged the person’s considerable influence. When asked if today’s target is BJP president Nitin Gadkari, as suggested by some of Mr Kejriwal’s aides, the former income tax officer said “There is no need for the BJP or any politician to worry. In this country, they all get away scot free.  No action is taken against them.”

Meanwhile, one of his closest aides, Mayank Gandhi, who is based in Mumbai has been accused of graft by other activists.

Since he launched his political party earlier this month with a promise to expose and combat corruption, Mr Kejriwal has been seen  in some circles as a Congress-baiter, a title he has rejected, arguing that his fight is against venality in all political parties.  He launched a high-decibel campaign against businessman Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, for having received sweetheart deals from real estate giant DLF.  In return, he alleged, Mr Vadra’s political connections helped DLF win large favours from the Congress government in Haryana. Mr Kejriwal has also been asking for Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s resignation on the basis of a Hindi news channel’s report which said the minister’s NGO allegedly embezzled lakhs of funds meant to help the differently-abled in Uttar Pradesh.

Mr Kejriwal’s party has emerged from a conglomerate of civil society activists and NGOs called India Against Corruption, the Mumbai branch of which is run by 54-year-old Mayank Gandhi.  A Right to Information activist, Krishnaji Rao, also from Mumbai, has alleged that Mr Gandhi floated an NGO to help a real estate company owned by his uncle land a major development deal. The state government cancelled the proposed project earlier this year because of reported malpractices and has ordered an inquiry into both the NGO and local corporation officials for alleged collusion.

Mr Gandhi’s uncle, Lalit Gandhi, who died two years ago, was director of the Lok Group, which had large real estate interests in the financial capital.

Mr Rao says that in 2007, an NGO was floated by the Lok Group. It was called “Remaking of Mumbai Federation.” Its secretary was Mayank Gandhi, and the non-profit had respected and prominent patrons like Infosys founder Narayans Murthy and retired Chief Justice of India PN  Bhagwati. Right around this time, Mumbai’s municipal corporation announced that 30-acres of the Chira Bazaar in South Mumbai, was up for redevelopment. The point was to buy nearly 350 buildings here with the consent of tenants and occupants, and then put up new apartments to house 40,000 people.

Mr Rao, the RTI activist, says that in violation of all guidelines, local officials did not invite bids for the project, worth 6,000 crores, and assigned it to a company named  Remaking of Mumbai Housing and Finance Infrastructure Ltd, which was a subsidiary of the Lok Group, owned by Mr Gandhi’s uncle. He says that because Mr Gandhi was running the NGO and was also a director of the Lok Group, there was a clear conflict of interest.

“Mayank participated and masterminded  a very sophisticated land grab attempt,” Mr Rao alleges, “there were whole lot of irregularities like the consent of the tenants wasn’t secured also no consent was secured on the stamp paper.” He claims that because the NGO had an impressive list of mentors and patrons,  and because it had worked closely with the tenants of Chira Bazaar, the non-profit helped Mr Gandhi’s uncle’s firm, the Lok Group, to land the contract.

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Last month, India Against Corruption made this statement in defence of Mr Gandhi: ” Mayank Gandhi did not float the NGO “Remaking of Mumbai Federation” (ROMF). He worked as a Secretary there, it was floated by the Lok Group. ROMF sold no project.  In addition Mayank Gandhi was an ‘independent director’ in Lok Group, and had no commercial interest. He resigned from all these positions in mid-August 2011, precisely to avoid perceived conflict of interest.’ (IAC defends Mayank Gandhi)

When NDTV contacted  Narayan Murthy, listed by the NGO  as one of its patrons, he said , “I don’t know any  Mayank Gandhi. I don’t know about this NGO that has mentioned me as a patron. I am approached by many NGOs and they ask me to do some work which I do in good faith”.

This January, another NGO, Jatin Manch that claims to  represent the interests of aggrieved tenants in Chira Bazaar, complained to the Chief Minister against Mr Gandhi’s non-profit group. “We  want an inquiry to be made in this as the larger issue is that of an NGO being used as a front to help a particular builder thereby depriving the tenants of their legitimate rights,” said Utsal Karnik, a member of Janhit Manch.

Mr Gandhi challenged the allegations and pointed out that the project was cancelled.  ” There is no corruption, there is no money, there is no purchase of land and sale of land, where is corruption? ” he said to NDTV.  “We can expect things like these as we are targeting the high and mighty,” he said.

 

 

 

Arvind Kejriwal’s close aide accused of dubious role in Mumbai land deal

In leaked audio clip, ‘voice of Bhagwant Mann’ says AAP leadership plotting against everyone

 

New Delhi: Days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) suspended Dharamvir Gandhi, its MP from Patiala, for anti-party activities, another parliamentarian from Punjab appears to have joined the rebel camp. In a private telephonic conversation with Gandhi, which has found its way to the media, Bhagwant Mann, the MP from Sangur, is heard criticising the party’s central leadership, and raising doubts over the party’s prospects in the Assembly elections in Punjab.

“They (the party leadership) are plotting against us… they have started plotting against everyone,” the voice, purportedly that of Mann, is heard mentioning in the audio conversation. It says AAP leaders in the state won because of their own popularity, not because of the ‘broom’ (the symbol of the party).

Firstpost is in possession of the audio clip, but does not vouch for its authenticity. Repeated calls to Mann went unanswered. When contacted, Gandhi said, “Yes, it’s true. I’ve also come to know about the audio clip. It was a telephonic conversation between Bhagwant Mann and me some six months ago. It’s not a recent one. Mann was apparently unhappy like me on the developments within the party related to Punjab. He expressed his grievances to me. But, one thing I can say with conviction is that the said conversation was not recorded at my end.”

File image of Bhagwant Mann. IBNLive

Interestingly, the audio clip surfaced just a day after Mann told AAP’s ‘Punjab Connect Rally’ that growing factionalism would not have am impact on the party, and that AAP will break the Delhi record by registering a clean sweep in Punjab.

“They (AAP leadership) believe that like Delhi, people here, will also vote for the broom and not look at the candidate… In Punjab, personality matters… Your (Gandhi’s) personality worked and so did professor’s (Professor Sadhu Singh — AAP’s lawmaker from Faridkot). I won because of my 20 years of celebrity status,” he claims. To justify his point, he adds: “Just think if that was not the case, why did Sauchi Mann not win. Since (HS) Phoolka was never among the people in Punjab, he also lost. Whydid Himmat Singh Shergil lose? He also had the broom.”

Gandhi, who agrees with Mann throughout the conversation, supported Mann’s arguments saying, “Exactly Ji… Absolutely correct… We have been with the people for so many years.”

Mann further adds that they are winners not only in Punjab, but Delhi as well because wherever they campaigned in the national capital, the candidate won by a huge margin. He says he, along with the other three MPs, should be authorised to make pan-Punjab policies. “Let’s seriously sit and think that we are the winners, and we are winners in Delhi too. Look at the victory margin wherever we campaigned,” he adds.

Adding that the party knows their strength and potential, Mann demands that the party must give them a say in candidate selection for the 2017 Assembly polls in Punjab. “Now we need to have a role in Punjab. Give us the right to have our own team,” he says.

He mentions the name of a few unknown leaders who, he alleges, have been thrust upon the party from outside against their wishes. “Don’t force upon us someone like Manjit and that Doctor (Balbir), Rupinder Kaur in Barnala.. (and ) all those who have contributed to our defeat . All those who were sad about our victory are now on our ship,” says Mann.

Raising serious doubts about the party’s prospects in the Punjab Assembly elections, Mann says that it is not an easy task to win here as AAP’s position is not that strong. “Punjab is not like Delhi where we have just to fight the BJP. There are more players, including the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). If our senior leaders think it is a cakewalk in Punjab, they are mistaken,” Mann told Gandhi, who speaks very little in the clip, but agrees with whatever his colleague in the Lok Sabha says.

Mann alleges that few party leaders have plans to distribute tickets to their favourites. Therefore, along with likeminded people in the party should work against such designs. He tells Gandhi, who only says “correct”, “absolutely correct”, “I agree”, “na na”, “exactly”, etc throughout the entire conversation, to hold secret meetings to discuss and devise their own plans for Punjab, which will go to the polls in 2017.

Mann also speaks against some other members such as Sucha Singh Chottepur and Harinder Singh Khalsa. The AAP had recently suspended two of its MPs — Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa (who represents Fatehgarh Sahib) — for anti-party activities. The duo had accused AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of acting like a dictator.

AAP leaders preferred to keep mum on the audio clip, adding that they have not come across any such audio file. They added that they will only react after listening to and verifying it. But AAP Volunteer Action Manch (AVAM), a group of the party’s disgruntled members, was quick to fire a salvo.

“The party has dumped its ideology and has been hijacked by people with vested interest,” AVAM’s Amit Kumar told Firstpost, when asked whether Kejriwal and other leaders are going to take any action against Mann.

Voice of Bhagwant Mann audio

 

Commando Surinder Singh

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NEW DELHI: Pre-empting the arrest of another MLA for a fake degree, Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday afternoon declared that they will turn in Commando Surinder Singh, MLA from Delhi Cantt, on Tuesday evening. Senior party member Sanjay Singh said that he and the MLA would meet Delhi Police commissioner BS Bassi at 4.30pm where Singh would give himself up.

Party sources added that the continuous face off with the police was getting to be tiresome and while they would co-operate entirely with it, it was high time that the party took a stand in the matter.

Though a major ruckus was expected at Delhi Police headquarters, a mellow mood was seen when the MLA accompanied by Sanjay Singh set foot there. Delhi high court had on Monday given a last chance to the commando to file his response on a petition alleging that his graduation degree is faked.

Delhi Police chief BS Bassi was accompanied by special commissioner (law & order) Deepak Mishra to meet them. Sources said that Bassi explained to them that the MLA need not surrender as his detention was not required or directed by the law.

Speaking to reporters, Sanjay Singh said, “Delhi Police is acting on orders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Despite rapists, murderers and dacoits roaming around fearlessly, Delhi Police is more intent on arresting AAP MLAs for fake degrees. If there is an FIR against any of our MLAs or party workers, action can be taken accordingly. We are not contesting any FIR and would like an end to this daily drama.”

Commando, who was in the NSG and lost his hearing during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, said that the government had failed to take action against the perpetrators of the attack but wants to hang someone who fought against the terrorists because of a fake degree. “Nobody questioned my degree till I joined AAP. I lost my hearing during the 26/11 attacks and went from politician to politician for 19 months for my pension. Nobody bothered with me then,” he said.

With one minister already in judicial custody for a fake degree and another MLA for alleged fraud, the party is treading carefully in defending its MLAs and also asking the police to implement law uniformly. “Several poll contestants from BJP and Congress said in their affidavits that they had cases of heinous crimes registered against them. Ministers in Modi’s Cabinet have cases of rape, murder and fake degrees, but the police won’t act against them. There are cases against 70 Delhi Police personnel for rape and molestation between 2003 and 2013, but all of them continue to be in service,” Singh said.
AAP MLA reaches police HQ to surrender