Attending a function where former Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari rolled out business plan of his Purti Group, NCP president and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said "there are no untouchables in politics".
"There should be no untouchables in politics as well as social work," Pawar said in his address at Gadkari's function held in Nagpur on Saturday night.
It is recalled that Purti Group came under the scanner last year over reports of investment by shell companies, which eventually led to Gadkari stepping down as BJP president.
On the occasion, Gadkari declared a tie-up with Essar Group for launching 100 petrol pumps across the country which would sell ethanol blended fuel at a price lesser by Rs 2 than being sold by PSU oil companies.
Purti makes ethanol through baggase and other bio-waste.
Gadkari said Purti had sponsored a research by a group of IITians for making bio-fuel mixed aviation turbine fuel.
He also announced Purti Group's foray into commercial LPG marketing as well as battery-operated rickshaws which is aimed at doing away with conventional rickshaws which require physical labour.
"A part of the cost to buy these rickshaws would be borne by the Purti Group and the Deendayal Trust run by it," Gadkari said.
In his address, Pawar praised Gadkari for promoting smaller check-dam-like projects as against fund-guzzling huge dams.
"...Take example of Gosikhurd project. It has taken almost 25 years for its benefits to reach the people. Smaller dams on the other hand start giving results in a year's time...Years have gone by but Vidarbha's irrigation woes remain unresolved," said Pawar.
Interestingly, the project, which commenced in 1983 in Bhandara district, has been mired in allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds which led to massive escalation of costs.
Both Pawar and Gadkari came down heavily on PSU oil companies for their reluctance to blend ethanol with petrol.
"It is an established fact that blending would lead to a major saving on foreign exchange outflow by cutting down the oil import bill. But with great reluctance the PSU companies have agreed to mix just 0.5% of ethanol for reasons best known to them," said Pawar.
Gadkari said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had approved his idea of ethanol blending.
"The PM had liked my idea very much and questioned as to why this is not being done. (To which) I replied, it's your government so who else would know it better," Gadkari said.
Union Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel also endorsed Gadkari's ideas and assured him to extend all possible help through his ministry for promoting automobile engines run on blended fuel.