LUCKNOW: It might be a coincidence or a well laid out plan. The day Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati left here to kick start her election campaign, the Enforcement Directorate and Income Tax department simultaneously raided 19 business establishments of businessman and liquor baron Gurdip Singh Chaddha, who is said to be a close associate of Mayawati. The CAG in its recent report on the controversial disinvestment of the UP government-owned sugar mills had also raised questions over the manner in which the Chaddha group was favoured in the disinvestment process.
The state government had sold five sugar mills in 2010 to Gurdip, popularly known as Ponty Chaddha, for which senior IAS officers are also under the CAG scanner.
A PIL is also pending before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court for an inquiry into his liquor business in the state. Unofficial sources confirmed that a series of raids had been carried out at Chaddha’s business establishments including the warehouses in Lucknow, Meerut, Moradabad, New Delhi and Chandigarh.
The sleuths also raided
his residences and farmhouses. Chaddha’s proximity to both Mayawati and her arch rival and president of the Samajwadi Party Mulayam Singh Yadav is an open secret in the corridors of power and trade circles.
When Mayawati came to power in 2007, Chaddha shifted his loyalties to the BSP chief and his business made a quantum leap in the last five years. During the period, he expanded his business interests to multiplexes,liquor and real estate. The Opposition levelled charges that Chaddha influenced the government to chalk out excise policy to suit him. Chaddha is also developing an integrated township spread over 4,500 acres in Ghaziabad which is tipped to be the largest in the country.
Though the IT sleuths were tight-lipped on the seizures made.