Saurabh Patel hits back at his links with GNR

Vol 20, PW 6 (01 Dec 16) People & Policy

Saurabh Patel has hit back at conflict of interest allegations over his family's investment in BSE-listed Gujarat Natural Resources while he was Gujarat energy minister.

In an angry phone call to this report on November 30, Patel criticises an Indian Express report eight days earlier which carried these allegations and curiously appeared on the same day as his son Abhay's wedding. "Read that story from top to bottom and tell me what the truth is?" thundered Patel.

"Come to your own conclusion. The story has been written to malign my name and image." A BJP source in Gandhinagar offers a conspiracy theory about the unfortunate timing of the Indian Express article.

"Patel does not get along with (BJP president) Amit Shah," he claims. "Shah is out to finish Patel." Affable Patel was Gujarat energy minister for 14 years before his unceremonious dismissal from the council of ministers on August 7 this year.

This latest controversy centres on Suryaja Infrastructure, promoted by Patel's brother Mehul and sister-in-law Nikita, which took 4.01% in BSE-listed GNR between October and December 2009 when Patel was minister. Mehul and Nikita hold 5000 shares of Suryaja and Patel and his son Abhay were also allotted 5000 shares each in 2009.

GNR shares traded at a low Rs4.13 ($0.06) in April 2007 but after Suryaja invested the share price rose to Rs85.6 ($1.24) in December 2009.

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