Prashant Dayal, Ahmedabad: Bharatgiri Goswami has come a long way from being a driver to cabinet minister Liladhar Vaghela’s driver to a millionaire in a span of few years. Amidst all the talk by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of alleviation of poverty and corruption, a common driver with a state-government firm went on to amass wealth worth millions, disproportionate to his income. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had earlier this year charged Goswami for owning disproportionate assets but later stopped its probe in the case abruptly.

Bharatgiri Goswami used to drive the official vehicle of Liladhar Vaghela, a former cabinet minister with the Keshubhai Patel government in Gujarat and was later assigned as the driver of IAS officer DJ Pandian, a director with the Gujarat Petrochemicals. Though Bharatgiri’s task was to drive Pandian to work, he was mostly at Pandian’s residence, doing odd jobs and errands for Pandian’s family and driving them around.

Usually, the maximum a driver could reach with all the promotions given to him is to the post of a clerk. But his great rapport with Pandian, saw him reach the ranks of the executive, and later as a Project Manager and began working domestic and international projects under instructions from Pandian. Meanwhile, there was a rise in his personal wealth too.

He soon became the owner of palatial bungalows in Gandhinagar, co-owner of party plots and bought a farmhouse too. Not a single government official raised an issue over this unnatural growth in the personal wealth of Goswami. He remained with Pandian till the time he was with Gujarat Petrochemicals. After Pandian, Goswami joined hands with the then health minister Shankar Chaudhary, where again both men shared an excellent rapport with each other.

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When Goswami was charged with corruption by the ACB, he flexed his political muscles and told his influential bosses to protect him from the law or they too would land in soup soon. As a result, one phone call to the ACB from Gandhinagar and soon the investigation was stopped and Goswami’s file was termed sensitive and removed from public domain. A petition has been filed in Gujarat High Court urging the investigation into Goswami’s ill-gotten wealth to be handed over to the CBI. If the court agrees to the petition and CBI is to investigate the case, many top officials and ministers might find themselves in deep trouble.

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