10/18/2012, 00.00
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India, Hindu nationalist leader "steals" water and land from peasants

For the anti-corruption movement, the BJP president Nitin Gadkari confiscated land in Maharashtra and diverted rivers to feed his business. In the state, water is scarce. To expropriate the land, he sought the help of political opponents of the Congress. Gadkari's defense: "I'm only a social entrepreneur."

Mumbai (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Misappropriation of land in Maharashtra, with the aim of diverting the few streams for irrigation of the fields to feed private industries: these are the charges against Nitin Gadkari (see photo), President the Baharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a Hindu ultra-nationalist party, leader of the opposition. He is being charged by Arvind Kejrival, leader of the anti-corruption movement (IAC - India Against Corruption), which after more than a year of battles for the first time has turned its "attention" to the BJP and not the Congress (government) of Sonia Gandhi. The fact is at least "curious", for two reasons: the Hindu party was the first supporter of IAC, giving prominence to all the scandals of corruption related to government, to obtain the land, Gadkari partnered with some Congress members and the NCP (Nationalist Congress Party wing), his political opponents forced to resign for kickbacks and rigged contracts. For now, the president of the BJP denies any wrongdoing, but the IAC revelations cast new shadows on its figure, and the entire Indian political class.

In December 2009, the election of a BJP leader Nitin Gadkari caused a sensation in and out of the party. A businessman, rather than politician, he owns construction companies, power plants and factories, but little is known about them. Instead his past is well-known, militancy in Sawayamsevak Rashtriya Sangh (RSS), a Hindu ultra-nationalist movements often responsible for violence against ethnic and religious minorities. An element, which, according to the Indian public opinion is at odds with the statements he made to defend himself against accusations of corruption.

Gadkari says he is trying to be a "social entrepreneur" and that he took over 100 acres of land - owned by local farmers - to build a dam, which would guarantee a regular water supply to the fields of villagers. According to Arvind Kejrival however, the dam supplies water only to the industries of the area: an accusation made worse by the fact that in Maharashtra, this resource is scarce even in the rainy seasons.

While waiting for some light to be shed on the matter, Indian public opinion is divided. On the one hand, there are those who support the work of Kejrival and see these new revelations as further proof of a corrupt political class, to be eradicated at all costs. On the other hand, there are those who see a dangerous phenomenon for democracy itself in the anti-corruption movement: instead of proposing and producing concrete alternatives, it fosters a feeling of anti-politics and distrust in institutions, which threatens to undermine the citizens themselves.


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