Not many would have taken notice of a large piece of land being transferred to a company called the Archian Chemicals in remote Kutchh area on a 99 year lease for salt based chemical project in 2005. The only noticeable factor was the size and the rate of lease. The area of 600Â millionÂ square meter ofÂ land was rented away by the Government of Gujarat at the rate of just 15 paise per annum! Perhaps this deal would have gone unnoticed, had the company not failed to start their declared project within the two years stipulated time. Since the company did not start the work till 2014, it attracted the penalty of cancellation of the lease and reverting the land back to the Government.
However, what is bizarre is that, Government instead of starting the procedure to recover the land from the defaulting company, suddenly, accepted a fresh application from the same company which was processed by the Gujarat Maritime Board. It has now been realized that the Archian Company belonged to the family of Venkaiah Naidu and that was the reason for giving away 600 million square meter of virtually free Government land. Gujarat’s leading vernacular daily, Gujarat Samachar, reported on 30th January, 2014, that the Gujarat Maritime Board has given a â€œin-principleâ€ sanction to the Company to build a 150 long Jetty at the Kori-creek in Kutchh.
The application for sanction of the Jetty is now pending in the office of the Chief Minister Mr. Modi. What has surprised most of the people is the way Government has overlooked the penalty clause and instead of recovering the land given originally, the Company is once again given a reward of a Jetty. The most shocking aspect of the new deal is the sensitivity of the Kori-creek area which is at Indo-Pak border and a dispute exists between the two countries regarding the creek!
The reason for this generosity of the Chief Minister towards Venkaiah is not very difficult to find. Since 2009, Modi had been facing the tough resistance from his mentor LK Advani and his close confidants in his march to reach the top . M Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar, the close confidants of L K Advani had refused to accept Modi as their super boss till the Parliamentary meeting on 13th September, 2013. Shri LK Advani as a protest refused to attend the meeting. Yet the meeting on 13th September, 2013 that was attended by 10 of the 12 members of the Parliamentary Board namely, Rajnath Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, M Venkaiah Naidu, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Narendra Modi, Ananth Kumar, Thawarchand Gehlot and Ramlal anointed Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of BJP. The resistance of the dissidents melted away as Modi waved his magic-wand.
Mr Venkaiah Naidu was perhaps the closest to Advani. As the former President of BJP, he did have a clout in BJP. On 30th August, 2009, Venkaiah Naidu, was quoted saying,
Advaniji is the leader. He will continue to lead the party; there is no proposal to change anybody, we are surprised by these reports about succession plan, stepping down, appointment of new president, new leader, RSS dictation– all these things… are totally baseless. They are speculative and imaginative.
But Kori-creek tells the whole story. Quite apart from the inner party corruption, the nation deserves to know why a place as sensitive as Kori-creek is being handed over to a private company of Venkaiah Naidu? Can the security of the nation be bartered for the exchange of a vote for the Prime Ministerial candidate?