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Home > News > Report

Pawar refutes allegations against Pratibha

Onkar Singh in New Delhi | June 23, 2007 13:45 IST
Last Updated: June 23, 2007 15:23 IST

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Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar [Images] on Saturday said the sugar mill of which Pratibha Patil was the chairperson until three years ago owed Rs 58.26 crores to various banks in Maharashtra.

"And since the loans taken more then 12 years ago have not been paid, the outfit has become a defaulter," he admitted in a press conference at Parliament House.

Pratibha had become governor of Rajasthan three years ago and hence, was not looking after the day-to-day activities of the mill and she is no way involved in the financial deal, he said.

"Of course the money would have to be paid to the bank. But her organisation is not the only one to be declared sick. The notice was issued in December 2006 and has been brought to the notice of the media now. There are 74 units, including the sugar mill which have been declared sick and a group of ministers would look into the problem of sugar mill owners and farmers and decide how to help them out," he said.

Pawar said sugar mills depended a great deal on the production of sugarcane which depends on rain.

"Sometimes the correct sugar price may also be the cause of the problem. Those who received notices are both in private and public sectors. In business, you see ups and downs," he explained as a part of the Congress effort to rebut allegations against their candidate.

Pawar again hit out at President A P J Abdul Kalam for declaring himself a candidate. "When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] told him that a candidate had already been declared, he should not have declared his candidature. How can you be a candidate and yet hope that you would contest only if there is a certainty about winning," he said.

Pawar made it clear that he attacked only an individual and not the office of the Presidency. He refused to comment about the murder charge against Pratibha's brother, saying that the matter is before the court.

Pawar hit out at Sudhindera Kulkarni, who worked with former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for using the residence of Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, former Akali minister, for holding an unauthorised press conference for the wife of V G Patil -- a Congress leader of Maharashtra who was murdered.

V G Patil's wife Rajni had alleged that Pratibha had been shielding a man who is accused of murdering her husband.

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said he will talk to Dhindsa to find out how his residence was "trespassed".

Additional Reportage: PTI