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How Modi made mirth and merriment by collecting money worth crores on the occasion of Sharadotsav of 2005

Counterview Desk
This is the third article in the series “One Can Not Keep Mum Now!” sponsored by the non-political organization, Save Democracy Movement, and prepared by former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Gujarat) general secretary Gautam Thaker, environmental expert Mahesh Pandya, and economists Prof Rohit Shukla and Prof Hemantkumar Shah:
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An evidence of how much did Narendra Modi follow the dictum, that he "wouldn't eat, nor would allow others to eat",  has come to light from the Sharadotsav festivity celebrated in Kutch. As the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, he flouted the Constitution in 2005 appears, making mirth and merriment by collecting extortion money worth crores of rupees on the occasion of Sharadotsav. It was cleverly committed financial corruption.
Worse, in return of contribution of Rs 50 lakhs made by a large company like Welspun, 40 acres of lands valuing crores of rupees were allotted to it at a cheap rate, and due to that, the State Exchequer suffered loss of crores of rupees. On the occasion of Sharadotsav festival, Narendra Modi relished ‘flavoured milk and roasted rice (poha)’, and made use of cushions and mattresses costing rents of thousands of rupees. Further, even by violating model code of conduct at the time of the Panchayat elections, he made gala celebrations of ‘Sharadotsav’ in the year 2005.
Vide Government Resolution dated 05-08-2005, the Gujarat Government constituted a State-level Committee consisting of 4 Ministers and 10 officers of the rank of Secretary, for the celebration of festivals. This Committee was expected to shoulder the responsibility of planning and implementation of festivals. Vide another Resolution of the same date for implementation of decisions taken by the Committee, a Coordination Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary to the Industries & Mines Department, which comprised of 10 other members.
On 08-08-2005, a meeting of the Co-ordination Committee was held in which discussions were held for various festivals, and in it, announcement was made that another meeting shall be held on 16-08-2005.
A letter was written on 24-08-2005 by Shri RM Patel, Principal Secretary, Small Industries and Tourism Department, addressed to the Collector, Kutch. Through this letter, minutes of the meeting of the Coordination Committee held on 16-08-2005 were forwarded to the Collector, informing the Collector to take compliance action on it. Ironically, in reply to an application made under the Right to Information Act, it was replied, vide letter dated 18-11-2011, that no such meeting was convened on 16-08-2005. Thus, a totally false information was furnished. From this, it transpires that the Government is trying to suppress something.
As a matter of fact, the meeting of the Co-ordination Committee was indeed held on 16-08-2005 and in its Resolution No 6, it was stated that by raising/collecting contribution for Sharadotsav 2005, the amount is ‘to be credited’ in a bank ‘account head’. Moreover, it was also informed to the collector, that its accounts will have to be checked by appointing Internal Auditor. Thereafter, on same day, i.e. 24-08-2005, the Collector went ahead in the matter and took decisions. As a followup, on 19-08-2005 the Collector  formed a Committee under his chairmanship consisting of 5 Officers.
Thereafter, the Collector started collecting contribution, i.e. extortion money. For example, by writing a letter dated 7-9-2005 addressed to the Adani Port Ltd., the Collector demanded a contribution of Rs 50 lakh. In response to that, the  Company sent a cheque for Rs. 25 lakh on 15-09-2005. In this way, in this account head, from over 453 small and big companies, private persons, co-operative banks, theatre houses, petrol pumps, Gram Panchayats, Government Offices, NGOs and Industrial Associations, a total of Rs. 2,39,06,820 was collected and deposited in the bank account.
The parties from whom the extortion money was collected included certain gram panchayats. Certain economically weak Panchayats had to contribute small sums of Rs 500.
One of the Companies paying this contribution, was Welspun. It gave two cheques, each for Rs. 25 lakh, aggregating Rs 50 lakh, on 31-08-2005.
For the celebration of Sharadotsav the Collector opened an account with the Bhuj branch of the State Bank of India, whose account No. is 090310007623. The signatory for operating this account was the Collector. This Bank account is still operational and no order whatsoever has yet been made to close it down, and what to do with the amount which remains in it may pose a big questions.
To open a separate bank account and to make collection for it on the part of the Collector, is not only a clear indication of financial irregularity and scam, but at the same time it is a violation of Constitution. Under Article 266 there is a provision that all that money which comes in the hand of the Government has to be deposited in the consolidated fund of the Government. Moreover, it should be credited to the public fund. But neither the amount of this contribution nor the extortion money was deposited in any of the two accounts, and for that, a separate account was opened.
In this way, violation of Article 283(2) of the Constitution was made. Under this article, the regulation of the money collected by the Government should have been done only in accordance with the laws passed by the Gujarat State Legislative Assembly. The Collector opening a bank account for celebration of Sharadotsav festivities should be covered under these laws.
The then Chief Minister, Narendra Modi made exorbitant expenditure for mirth and merriment and extravaganza out of the money collected in the name of Sharadotsav. For a single time, he ate flavoured milk and roasted rice (poha) for Rs 12,270! For that, payment was released by a cheque No. 6740250 from the aforesaid account with the SBI. Similarly, a cheque No. 6740250 for an amount of Rs 15,625 was released towards the expenditure for mattresses, cushions and bed-sheets. For stay inside the tents, another cheque No. 6740243 for Rs. 14,500 was released towards cushions and mattresses, which is over and above the other expenses!
In return for the donation/contribution paid by Welspun, 40 acres land of Anjar town was allocated to that company on an urgent basis for putting up a township. Narendra Modi himself inaugurated it on 26-11-2005. This plot of land was allocated to the Company for Rs 15 per sq metre, whereas the rate as per the ‘jantri’ was of Rs 78 and its market value was Rs. 200 per sq metre. Thus, the land costing Rs. 3.20 crore was given away at Rs 24 lakh only.
A total of 1,800 acres of land was given away to Welspun by the Modi Government. Assuming that this land was also given away at this rate, then the land valuing Rs 144 crore can be said to have been allocated to the Company for Rs 10.80 crore only. Thus, the state exchequer suffered a loss of Rs 133.20 crores. Moreover, benefits to the tune of Rs 21,000 crore were offered to Welspun in the form of various kinds of subsidies.
Interestingly,  the land which was allocated to Welspun was as per the instructions of the then Chief Minister, Narendra Modi himself. The Collector of Kutch, Pradeep Sharma, in a statement made in a court has stated that “If I have allocated land in a wrong or improper way then why does the Government not seize the said 48 acre land? I had allocated the land as per the instructions received from the Chief Minister and from his Office.” 
District and taluka panchayat polls were to be held on 25-10-2005 and code of conduct was effective during Sharadotsav, which took place on 16th, 17th and 18th October 2005. The Chief Minister remained present and the district collector, in spite of him being the chief election officer, also remained present to welcome or receive the Chief Minister. Thus, the code of conduct for elections was violated.

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