Is there any connection among the controversial company Ideal Road Builders, Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] president Nitin Gadkari and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar?
There is indeed a slim link that passes through all three entities.
IRB, which was set up by Virendra Mhaiskar, is under the spotlight for lending a huge personal loan of Rs 164 crores (Rs 1.64 billion) to Gadkari's Purti Power and Sugar Limited.
And Sharad Pawar, the most powerful leader of Maharashtra [ Images ], owned 1,000 equity shares in IRB.
According to the details available on the Prime Minister's Office's Web site, Pawar held a small amount of equity shareholding worth Rs 161,550 as on March 31, 2011, with IRB's share price being quoted at Rs 161.55.
On Thursday, the company's shares were being traded at Rs 119.05 on the Bombay Stock Exchange [ Images ].
However, Pawar's assets and liabilities for 2011-2012 does not show the IRB investment.
Rediff.com contacted Pawar's office to confirm his shareholding in IRB that he held until last year, but could not get a response. The e-mail sent to Pawar's Officer on Special Duty D K Singh did not get any specific response either at the time of publishing this report.
Anjali Damania, the India [ Images ] Against Corruption activist, has alleged that when she met Gadkari for help in land-related issues against Ajit Pawar, then Maharashtra's deputy chief minister and the agriculture minister's nephew, the BJP leader had told her that he has business relations with Sharad Pawar.
'Woh hamare char kaam karte hai, aur hum unke char kaam karte hai (they oblige us, we oblige them),' she had quoted Gadkari, who stoutly denies the alleged statement and has sent Damania a legal notice, alleging defamation.
A senior IAC leader told Rediff.com, "The equity held by Pawar in IRB is quite small, but Pawar is not an ordinary man. If he invests in some company and reveals it along with his other data that is published on the PMO's Web site, it means something. Pawar type of politicians will not invest in any company. He can't be a reckless investor."