Silencing critics: Rupani opts for judicial probe

Billed as a smart move in media and political circles, the Rupani govt has appointed a panel to inquire into a Rs. 4000 crore groundnut scam in NAFED procurement that has lately been hogging the media headlines. Chief Minister Rupani announced that the Commission of Inquiry would be headed by a retired Justice H K Rathod.

It bears recall that opposition Congress has been going around in the Saurashtra region apprising the people of the magnitude of the scam and BJP leaders’ involvement in the loot of the public exchequer.

Earlier, through a story in these columns, Indian cooperative had opined that the scam may prove costly for the Gujarat BJP in electoral terms in 2019. Aware of the fact that in the soon-to-start Assembly session, Congress would make a hue and cry over the issue in the House, the constitution of judicial inquiry is aimed at silencing the opposition, said an insider.

Once a matter is sub-judice, it cannot be raised in the House and this seems to be the strategy of BJP, said a senior leader to Indian Cooperative.

The name of the then agriculture minister Chiman Saparia is being mentioned by Congress Party in the scam. It is a scam involving thousands of crores with a simple modus operandi–in each sack of 35 kg of groundnuts, more than 10 kg mud and sand was mixed while the same quantity of groundnut was stolen away from godowns, recalls a local cooperator.

It is being said that a letter written by Saparia enlisting names of co-ops which had been given the job of procurement are doing rounds in cooperative circles. What is clear from the letter is that none other than Chiman Saparia was responsible for the distribution of procurement jobs to co-ops with ulterior motives, says Congress leaders.

Speaking on the development, one of the senior cooperators from Gujarat said on condition of anonymity “ It looks like state BJP’s efforts to divert the issue and put the blame on the door of NAFED Chairman V R Patel have cut no ice so far.”

Chairman’s nephew may have been arrested but he himself or any of the NAFED Board members have no role in the distribution of procurement to dubious co-ops, said Dileep Sanghani BJP leader and Vice-President of NAFED.

The presence of Sanghani in the Nafed Board and his own personal understanding of the case have strengthened the Board members’ defenses against any possible accusation. “Dominated as the board is by non-BJP cooperators, the board would have become an unnecessary victim of the BJP dispensation. But thanks to Sanghani taking an un-mistakable stand on the issue, the top brass in the BJP is positively informed ”, said a board member with a sigh of relief.