Congress leader Ashok Gehlot’s brother involved in fertilizer scam?
New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot’s brother is alleged to be involved in ‘fertilizer scam’ in Rajasthan.
According to a website Opindia.com, Agrasain Gehlot, “brother of Ashok Gehlot was allegedly involved in a corruption scandal between 2007 and 2009 that involved diversion of a crucial ingredient used for making fertilizers–all of which were actually meant for farmers in distress.” Gehlot is in charge of Congress in poll-bound Gujarat and is also close to Rahul Gandhi who is raising farmers issues in the election at the moment.
It is alleged that the government concessions available to pass benefits to the farmers were misused to create benefits for oneself and private companies.
The website claims to have accessed documents, according to which, this scam largely took place when Ashok Gehlot was the chief minister in Rajasthan and Manmohan Singh was the prime minister at Delhi.
According to the report, Agrasain Gehlot, during the period 2007 to 2009, was allegedly part of a conspiracy to export tonnes of Muriate of Potash (MOP) against shipping bills by falsely declaring it mostly as Feldspar Powder or industrial salt. It is also alleged that the total value was falsely declared against the then correct actual value. The resulted in diversion of what was actually for the farmers.
According to information, Indian Potash Limited (IPL) is the company that imports bulk of MOP catering to domestic demand. The demand, however, always tends to exceed the availability. The soil nutrient is meant for domestic consumption by the farmers and its export is subject to severe restriction including prior permission of Department of Fertilizers and forfeiture of the custom duty exemptions.
The government provides subsidies and concessions on the import of MOP so that fertilizers are available at low cost to the farmers. The allegation has it that instead of selling them to farmers, some firms were found indulged in exporting them to foreign customers and making profits.
On the basis of the order by Commissioner of Customs, OpIndia claims to have revealed the modus operandi employed by the firms “which involved manipulations and forgery to camouflage their chain of operations and quantum of business.”
The order, according to the website, says that the sales documents were manipulated to show that the MOP was sold to farmers while it was never sold to them.
As per the order as shared by the website, Agrasain Gehlot, a dealer for Indian Potash Limited (IPL), was given MOP by IPL to sell it to farmers, but he sold it to people who subsequently exported it. Agrasain Gehlot was allegedly made all payments in cash, account of which was not proper in the books. The person acting as the middleman in this whole syndicate was known to Agrasain Gehlot, according to the report.
Agrasain Gehlot is said to have rejected these charges, and his version is recorded in the order by commissioner of customs. He instead claimed that the middleman used to buy from him in name of farmers and he did not know that MOP was subsequently being exported. However, the commissioner order, according to Opindia, concludes that Agrasain Gehlot was giving contradictory statements and that he has a habit of suppressing facts thereby misleading investigations.