A relatively unknown woman politician who is contesting the upcoming Kharghar gram panchayat elections has something that very few can boast of: assets worth Rs200 crore. Leena Arjun Garad is the wife of an assistant police inspector posted with the Navi Mumbai police commissionerate and will fight the January 19 polls on a Kharghar Colony Forum (KCF) ticket from ward number 3.
“The amount is reflective of the current market value of land which I bought at much lesser rates over the years. We also own vehicles and plots in Ulwe... I have been in the construction business for 13 years and all my dealings are on paper. We have our balance sheets and have been paying income tax to the government and filing returns,” Leena told dna.
The whopping amount of her declared assets, however, has raised several eyebrows and hackles. Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) leader Jayant Patil has demanded an inquiry into Leena and her husband’s sources of income. “The Garads own a fleet of 17 four-wheelers, including high-end cars like Fortuner, Honda City and Scorpio. The registration number of most of these vehicles is 100. Leena owns seven plots measuring 40mt-250mt in Ulwe where major construction activity is underway,” he told dna from Nagpur.
Leena’s husband has been working with the Navi Mumbai police commissionerate for 17 years and earns less than Rs30,000 a month.
Patil has written a letter to the state election commission, pointing out how Garad, despite being a government servant, is involved in electioneering and influencing voters by creating divisions between “outsiders and local villagers” by raising the issue at every meeting. The PWP leader said Garad is using the police machinery to create fear among candidates as well as gram panchayat officials. He says Garad is the brain behind KCF and that it functions from Rajgad, Punit Cooperative Society in sector-11 of Kharghar, where the assistant police inspector resides.
“Garad is using his wife as a dummy and is involved in the construction business. He is misusing his official position and purchasing land from villagers at throwaway prices by threatening them,” Patil alleged.
Leena rubbished the allegations, saying they were exaggerated. “There is nothing new in what the PWP leader has said. I have declared everything in my papers to the election commission.
The vehicles he is referring to have been taken on loan. I have a loan of Rs10 crore,” she said, without disclosing the amount she pays as EMI. She said the current market value of her plots is Rs200 crore and that there’s nothing to conceal.
Her party, too, defended her. “Politicians should congratulate us for not hiding our assets and follow our example. Everything is in black and white; there is no room for suspicion. Our aim is to give Kharghar well-educated candidates,” said Rupali Jain, KCF spokesperson.
The Kharghar gram panchayat elections have been mired in controversy. The election commission cancelled the polls — initially scheduled in December — after the KCF alleged irregularities. The KCF is a forum formed by like-minded individuals and will contest all 17 seats in the January 19 elections.
Top netas nowhere close
Ganesh Naik (NCP) Rs3 crore
Ajit Pawar (NCP) Rs10 crore
Abu Asim Azmi (SP) Rs126 crore
Ashok Chavan (Cong) Rs24 crore
Suresh Jain (Shiv Sena) Rs82 crore
Mangal Lodha (BJP) Rs68 crore