It has been less than 6 months for the formation of the Uddhav Thackeray-led alliance government in Maharashtra, and Sharad Pawar has already started milking it for personal benefits. According to an Indian Express report, the Maharashtra government has allotted 51.33 hectares of the government land, valued over 10 crore rupees, to Vasantdada Sugar Institute chaired by Pawar, at throwaway prices.
The Uddhav Thackeray cabinet ignored the Revenue Department and the Finance Department’s objections, and awarded the land to the institute whose board members are NCP and Congress leaders, at nominal rates as a “special case”. The government also ignored the opinion by state’s Advocate General, who suggested against awarding the government land to the trust, as it against the norms of prevailing law, passed by Fadnavis government.
As per the report by Indian Express, “Pawar is VSI chairman, sitting Maharashtra ministers Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Excise Minister Dilip Walse-Patil, Finance Minister Jayant Patil (Nationalist Congress Party), and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat (Congress) are among the Board of Trustees while two other ministers Rajesh Tope (NCP) and Satej Patil (Congress) are on its governing council.”
Vasantdada Sugar Institute, named after first Maratha strongman and former chief minister of the state, Vasantdada Patil, operates under the trust formed by cooperative sugar barons in 1975. The land was awarded to trust for sugar research and carrying out educational activities.
The land was given to the institute at nominal rate- Re 1 per sq me (Rs 10,000 per hectare) – which will translate into around 50,000 rupees for the land worth 10 crore, as it was for “public purpose”.
With the Congress and NCP in the alliance, the next five years are going to be a disaster for the state of Maharashtra, which has already faced 15 disastrous years of Congress-NCP government before 2014, when one after another scam surfaced every year.
The Pawars are among the most tainted politicians of the country. They have been accused of having links with criminals, illegal use of state power, and corruption. “During their tenure as Ministers in the centre and state, the Pawars only looted thousands of crores of rupees through irrigation projects, infrastructure, realty sectors. They were now worried about all these scams,” said PM Modi during 2019 general election campaign. He also termed NCP as “Naturally Corrupt Party”.
Sharad Pawar built his political and business empire by influencing the agriculture and related industries through policy manipulation. The credit cooperative societies, sugar mills, agriculture market produce committee (APMC) were the instruments for Sharad Pawar to build the power base the politics of the state.
The daughter of Sharad Pawar- Supriya Sule and his son in law were accused of holding 21.97 percent stake in Lavasa Corporation Limited (LCL) from 2002 to 2004. “All the necessary permission from the government for Lavasa was received in this period. After that, both of them quietly sold off their stakes,” said Ms. Suniti of the National Alliance of People’s Movement.
In 2010, IPL matches were tax exempted due to Pawar’s close association with BCCI. He had a long stint at BCCI, Mumbai Cricket Association and controlled the richest sports body in the country for decades.
As the alliance government has once again grabbed the chair due to backstabbing of Shiv Sena, all the reforms will be reversed and Maharashtra will once again be ridden with corruption, just like the previous 15 years of Congress-NCP alliance.