Why Nitin Gadkari’s denial of connection to Scania bus was an outright lie

Nitin Gadkari, the union minister for road transport and highways, had denied any connection to the SVT report that said the Swedish vehicles manufacturer Scania had gifted him a luxury bus in hopes of receiving an assignment in India. But the bus was seen in a Nagpur compound linked to him, and a company that used the bus has deep business connections to companies helmed by his sons, Sarang and Nikhil. Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Getty Images
Nitin Gadkari, the union minister for road transport and highways, had denied any connection to the SVT report that said the Swedish vehicles manufacturer Scania had gifted him a luxury bus in hopes of receiving an assignment in India. But the bus was seen in a Nagpur compound linked to him, and a company that used the bus has deep business connections to companies helmed by his sons, Sarang and Nikhil. Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times/Getty Images
06 April, 2021

On a July afternoon in 2018, in Nagpur, I entered a factory compound owned by Purti Solar Systems Private Limited, a company associated with the union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari. The minister had recently been accused of illegally acquiring the plot and mortgaging it to secure a massive loan. The compound appeared abandoned—the plants had grown wild, the factory seemed to have shut down a long time ago, the equipment outside it lay in a state of decrepitude, and there was not a worker in sight. Yet, confusingly, the compound also had a large white bus parked inside—a Scania Metrolink.

Nearly three years later, on 10 March 2021, a Swedish news channel named SVT reported that Scania, a Swedish commercial-vehicles manufacturer, had “gifted” Gadkari a luxury bus, “a repainted Metrolink HD with dark red leather seats,” for his daughter’s wedding, in December 2016. Having accessed an internal investigation at Scania, SVT reported further that “sources also provided information to the German vehicle manufacturer Volkswagen, which owns Scania, that the bus was a gift to an Indian minister with the aim of getting an assignment in India.” In the wake of the report, Gadkari denied association with “any Scania bus” or “any firm or individual” connected to it. But The Caravan’s investigation demonstrated beyond doubt that the union minister lied outright—the bus was found in the plot linked to Gadkari, and companies to which the bus was connected have deep business relationships with his sons, Sarang and Nikhil.

The SVT report—jointly investigated with the organisations ZDF and Confluence Media, from Germany and India, respectively—noted that Scania had sold the bus “via a dealer, to a company with close links to the Gadkari family.” Hans-Åke Danielsson, Scania’s press manager and senior advisor, told me that the company had sold a Metrolink HD bus to a Bengaluru-based dealer, TransPro Motors Private Limited, in 2016. He added that according to Scania’s own “investigations,” TransPro “rented out” the bus to another Indian company, Sudarshan Hospitality Management Services Private Limited.

Given its conspicuous presence, I had recorded a video of the bus in the Purti Solar Complex compound. The video clearly shows two decals on the bus—one, next to the driver’s door, reads “Scania metrolink” and the other, in large bold letters across the side of the bus, reads “Sudarshan Hospitality.” Official records, including the registration certificate of the bus, further indicate that the bus in the Purti Solar Complex compound was the same one that Scania reportedly gifted to Gadkari.

Danielsson said that Scania “found no evidence that the bus has been a gift to Gadkari,” but he also acknowledged that “the transactions made in the delivery of this bus was not sufficiently documented by Scania India and therefore difficult to investigate.” None of the other companies or individuals I reached out to for comment responded by the time the story was published, including Gadkari and his sons, as well as TransPro Motors and Sudarshan Hospitality.

Documents filed before the ministry of corporate affairs show that Sudarshan Hospitality is inextricably linked to two companies owned by Sarang and Nikhil Gadkari—Manas Agro Industries & Infrastructure Limited and Cian Agro Industries & Infrastructure Limited. Sarang is a director at Manas Agro and Nikhil is a director at Cian Agro. In addition to a wide network of companies connecting these three companies, the MCA documents further revealed that Sarang Gadkari’s Manas Agro had even disbursed an unsecured loan of Rs 35 lakh to Sudarshan Hospitality in the financial year 2016–17—indisputably belying Gadkari’s claims.

Nitin Gadkari, a former BJP national president, is among the most powerful men in the prime minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet. In addition to road transport and highways, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader also holds the portfolio for small and medium enterprises. In an April 2018 profile of Gadkari, The Caravan reported that journalists, businessmen, bureaucrats and leaders of the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh alike said that “if the RSS decided to replace Modi as the prime minister for any reason, it would choose Gadkari to take his place.” Meanwhile, Scania is a subsidiary of Traton SE, one of the largest commercial vehicle manufacturers of the world, which in turn is a subsidiary of the internationally popular German car manufacturer, the Volkswagen Group. Yet, the SVT report did not create the sort of ripple that could be expected even in the current, compromised Indian media landscape.

While few organisations pursued the story, mainstream media widely reported Gadkari’s denial of it. The day after the story broke, Gadkari’s office posted a series of tweets formally denying the accusations as “malicious, fabricated and baseless” and claiming that he had “absolutely nothing to do with the purchase or sale of any Scania bus” or “with any firm or individual” linked to it. On 31 March, The Print published an interview with Gadkari, in which he claimed that the bus in SVT’s report referred to an ethanol-run bus, which is manufactured by Scania, that the road-transport minister brought to Nagpur as part of a Green Bus initiative. But even this narrative does not stand scrutiny—Scania’s ethanol-run bus was of a different model than the Metrolink HD, which does not even run on ethanol. More importantly, Gadkari’s version does not explain why he lied about his connections to Sudarshan Hospitality, or why a Metrolink bus was lying parked in a compound linked to Gadkari in July 2018, nearly two years after it was reportedly gifted to him.


I stumbled upon the bus while investigating allegations of fraud against Purti Solar Systems Private Limited, an electricals-manufacturing company at which Kishore Totade, Gadkari’s brother-in-law, was a director till May 2014. Gadkari had come under the scanner in 2012, when corruption allegations concerning large investments from shell companies were levelled against him in relation to the Purti Group—a conglomerate worth over Rs 300 crore at the time. Gadkari’s driver was listed as a director in five Purti companies, and the Purti Group’s managing director was Sudhir W Dive, a former bureaucrat who had once been the union minister’s personal secretary. The scandal led Gadkari to withdraw from the Purti Group. Following a court order in February 2016, some constituent companies of the Purti Group were amalgamated into Manas Agro Industries & Infrastructure Private Limited, in which his son Sarang was appointed director that year.

Purti Solar Systems was not among the companies amalgamated into Manas Agro Industries. Its registered address with the MCA is the plot J-17 in Nagpur’s Hingna Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation area—the plot where I found the Scania Metrolink. In October 2018, Newslaundry reported that Ghanshyan Das Rathi, an RSS member who is a shareholder of the Polysac Industrial Cooperative Society, or PICS, accused Gadkari of illegally acquiring the Hingna MIDC plot from the cooperative society. According to Rathi, the union minister—who is also a member of PICS—transferred the land to Purti Solar Systems without the permission or knowledge of the shareholders of the cooperative society. Purti Solar Systems then passed a board resolution, published in the Newslaundry report, to mortgage the land to secure a loan of Rs 42.83 crore for another company, GMT Mining and Power Limited, in which Gadkari’s sons were both directors at least until July 2014. GMT Mining was among the companies amalgamated into Manas Agro.

The electricity bill (left) and the water bill (right) at the Nagpur compound shows that the plot—located at J-17, Hingna MIDC—is registered to both Purti Solar Systems and Polysac Industrial Cooperative Society. Kaushal Shroff for The Caravan
On 20 July 2018, the Scania Metrolink HD was present at the plot number J-17, in Nagpur's Hingna MIDC area, which is linked to Purti Solar Systems and Nitin Gadkari. Kaushal Shroff for The Caravan

When I visited the Nagpur plot, to my surprise, the compound was open and abandoned. I found an electricity bill for Rs 290, issued by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company for the previous month, lying in the premises. The bill recorded the consumer name as “Purti Solar Systems Pvt. Ltd.” confirming that this plot was registered to the company. I also found water bills for May and June 2018 that were addressed to PICS, indicating that the property still appeared to be registered to the cooperative society as well. Barely twenty feet from the entrance gate to the plot, visible to anyone even from the outside, stood the large, white Scania Metrolink.

The bus bore the license number “MH31 EM 1530.” The registration certificate of this license number, as accessible on Vahan—the road transport ministry’s digitised database—recorded that the bus was a “Scania Metro Link HD 410 IB6,” registered on 6 December 2016. The SVT report stated that email communications between Scania managers in India and Sweden showed that “the delivery of the bus to the minister was important for the Swedish company’s future in India.” A follow-up report published after Gadkari’s denial quoted an email from a Scania manager, “The Minister of Transport has been waiting for this bus. It is very important that delivery takes place in mid-December, because he wants to use the bus for an important family event.” Gadkari’s daughter, Ketki, got married on 4 December, two days before the bus was registered. Her reception took place on 8 December.

The registration certificate also records the name of the vehicle’s owner, though only partially—every alternate alphabet in the owner’s name are crossed off with an asterisk to protect their identity. For the bus, the certificate recorded the owner’s name as “*/* *R*N*P*O * O*O*S *V* *T*.” After struggling with it for three days, the owner’s name revealed itself to me, seeming entirely obvious with the wisdom of hindsight: M/s TransPro Motors Pvt Ltd, the local dealership that bought the bus from Scania. There could be no doubt that this was the same bus.

Pertinently, the SVT report noted that Scania gave a “repainted Metrolink HD with dark red leather seats.” I was unable to look inside the bus during my visit, but a photo posted by Sudarshan Hospitality on its Facebook page on 3 June 2017 shows Gadkari sitting in a large bus with red leather seats, with his son, Sarang, as well as BJP Maharashtra’s general secretary, Chandrashekhar Bawankule, with several other men standing around them. Another photo on the company’s Facebook page shows a Scania bus with the same red leather seats inside, though it cannot be ascertained whether it is the Metrolink HD reported by SVT.

Purti Solar Systems did not respond to emailed queries about the bus’s presence in its Nagpur compound, and Sudarshan Hospitality did not answer any queries about the bus or the photo on its Facebook page. Bawankule and the Gadkaris did not respond to explain the photo either.

Publicly available photos posted by Sudarshan Hospitality on Facebook show a Scania bus with red, leather seats—as described in the SVT report—and Nitin Gadkari, Chandrashekhar Bawankule and Sarang Gadkari inside a similar bus.

The MCA filings by TransPro Motors for 2016–17—also referred to as the financial year 2017, or FY17—include a loan agreement with Volkswagen Finance Private Limited, the financial services company of the Volkswagen Group in India, executed in August 2016. The charge documents uploaded on the MCA website includes the loan agreement, which shows that Volkswagen Finance gave out a vehicle loan of Rs 22.19 lakh to TransPro Motors. Documents available publicly on CERSAI, a government database of charges of all companies under the purview of the MCA, revealed that the loan was issued for a car bearing the same license number as the Scania Metrolink bus I saw in Purti Solar’s premises. In effect, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group disbursed a loan of Rs 22.19 lakh to TransPro Motors so that it could buy the Scania Metrolink being sold by another Volkswagen Group company.

According to Danielsson, the Scania spokesperson, the company’s investigations revealed that TransPro Motors then “rented out” the bus to Sudarshan Hospitality. In its accounts, Sudarshan Hospitality has represented the bus as a tangible asset, reflected for the first time in its financial statement for FY17. It is unclear how the bus is reflected as an asset, given that Danielsson said Scania’s investigation indicated that TransPro Motors had rented the bus to Sudarshan Hospitality and not sold it. However, neither Transpro Motors nor Sudarshan Hospitality responded to emailed queries about the bus. As a result, it is difficult to determine the exact nature of its ownership apart from what is revealed in the public documents filed before the ministry of corporate affairs.

Filings by TransPro Motors and Sudarshan Hospitality are inconsistent on the value of the bus. The loan agreement between Volkswagen Finance and TransPro Motors reflected that the cost of the vehicle was the same as the loan amount—Rs 22.19 lakh—but Sudarshan Hospitality’s entry in its FY17 balance sheet enters its value as Rs 33.57 lakh. It is unclear why the two documents reflect different amounts for the values. A bus dealer working with a prominent Indian company, who asked to remain anonymous, told me that the Scania Metrolink would easily cost over Rs 1 crore, so it is unclear why the loan agreement between Volkswagen Finance and TransPro Motors reflected the value of the vehicle as Rs 22.19 lakh.

Moreover, an independent auditor’s report filed by Sudarshan Hospitality in FY19—the Companies Act of 2013 directs all companies to submit auditor’s reports with their financial statements every year—also noted that the bus was depreciating in value but brought no revenue.  The financial statements record that the value of the asset depreciated by approximately 15 percent every year. In Sudarshan Hospitality’s FY18 balance sheet, the asset’s value was recorded as Rs 28.25 lakh, which fell to Rs 23.78 lakh by FY19. The auditor’s report noted, “The company owns a bus and claims depreciation on the same while the revenue from transport is negligible.” In fact, the auditor goes further to question the transaction on record. The auditor’s report states, “The transaction draws a suspicion regarding the authenticity and validity of the transaction. The explanation provided by the management was not found to be satisfactory.”

The report does not mention the explanation that Sudarshan Hospitality’s management had offered. It does, however, note, “The aforesaid standalone financial statements give the information required by the Act in the manner so required and do not give a true and fair view in conformity with the accounting principles generally accepted in India, of the state of affairs of the Company as of 31st March, 2019.”

Since the registration of the bus in December 2016, the first transaction from Sudarshan Hospitality to TransPro Motors is a sum of Rs 60 lakh reflected in the latter’s financial records for FY17 under the section, “Advance from Customers.” The next year’s filings record a “security deposit” from Sudarshan Hospitality of Rs 75 lakh, which is again reflected in the FY19 financial statement. But none of these records mention whether this was a payment for the bus. The entries do not find a corresponding record in Sudarshan Hospitality’s financial statements, but its balance sheet for FY20 indicates that the bus was no longer an asset held by the company. The auditor’s report in Sudarshan Hospitality’s statement from that year notes that an asset was “taken over by the financial institution due to default in repayment of loan during the financial year ended March 31, 2020.” Correspondingly, the audit report filed by TransPro Motors that same year indicates that Volkswagen Finance seized the bus because “the company has defaulted in repayment of dues to its bank & financial institute.”

Despite its sister concern having seized the bus, Scania maintained that it did not know the whereabouts of the bus. Danielsson, the Scania spokesperson, told me, “The simple reason to this is that Scania does not know where the bus currently is (and has no reason to know that).” He said that the company’s transaction with TransPro Motors was “not sufficiently documented by Scania India … and not in line with the Scania way of doing business. That’s why the Scania employees involved in this transaction are no longer with the company.” Danielsson added that the question of the bus’s current whereabouts “has to be raised to the owner of the bus, which (as far as we understand) is Transpro Motors.”

The Caravan called and emailed TransPro Motors on the contact details mentioned in the company’s MCA filings, but the phone number was invalid and the email was returned undelivered. A visit to its registered office in Bengaluru revealed that the TransPro Motors’ office had shut down, and a Scania office stood in its place.

Stefan Voges, the press spokesman at Volkswagen Financial Services AG, told me he could not “give an opinion due to preliminary investigations by the public prosecutor.” Voges did not elaborate on the investigation and what it concerned. When contacted again, an automated email directed me to speak to Dennis Eisenhaeur, the spokesperson for the German company’s finance and division. Eisenhaeur declined to comment further. Oddly, the officials at Volkswagen Finance India did not respond to questions about its loan to TransPro Motors and whether it seized the bus, but repeated the response by the German parent company. The Indian subsidiary then added that its response was “issued on behalf of the official spokesperson Volkswagen Financial Services AG.”

In his interview with the journalist Shekhar Gupta, Gadkari, too, brought up a loan given by Volkswagen Finance. The union minister said that the context behind the SVT report was an arrangement between the Nagpur Municipal Corporation and Scania, which he had facilitated as part of his road-transport portfolio, to bring the Swedish bus manufacturer’s ethanol-run buses to India. He said the bus referred to in the report was India’s first ethanol-run bus that was brought to Nagpur on a trial run, and added that it ultimately led to the launch of a Green Bus project in Nagpur, with a fleet of 35 ethanol-run Scania buses.

Gadkari emphasised that he had nothing to do with the transaction, and that it was entirely between the NMC and Scania. He also noted that Volkswagen Finance issued Scania a loan of Rs 85 lakh for the bus, and that Scania put in Rs 45 lakh of its own. Towards the end of the interview, Gadkari said the bus cost Rs 1.35 crore—five lakhs over the amounts purportedly paid by Volkswagen Finance and Scania—but Gupta did not ask where this amount came from. In fact, for more than six minutes, as Gadkari defended the SVT allegations, Gupta did not counter question him about anything at all. The senior journalist’s only role in the interview seemed to be to provide the minister a friendly platform to put forth a counter narrative, and to acknowledge the latter’s contribution to bringing ethanol buses to India.

If he had chosen to question Gadkari’s claims, Gupta could have exposed that the union minister was, once again, lying outright. The SVT report noted that Scania had gifted the bus to Gadkari through two private companies—which The Caravan’s investigation identified as TransPro Motors and Sudarshan Hospitality—and could therefore not refer to the ethanol-run buses delivered to NMC. The MCA documents establish beyond question that the white Metrolink HD sold by Scania to TransPro, which I saw in the Purti Solar Systems compound, is not the green ethanol-run bus that Gadkari claims it to be.

Nitin Gadkari, the union minister of road transport and highways, flags off the launch of Scania’s ethanol-run green bus in Nagpur, in August 2014. PTI

There is further evidence to establish that Gadkari is spinning a false narrative about the Scania bus. The first ethanol-run Scania bus was brought to Nagpur for the pilot project in August 2014, two years before the Metrolink sold to TransPro Motors was even registered. Moreover, the MCA documents filed by Scania’s Indian subsidiary—Scania Commercial Vehicles India Private Limited—show no transactions with Volkswagen Finance during FY14 and FY15, so it is unclear on what basis Gadkari claimed to Gupta that Volkswagen Finance disbursed a loan of Rs 85 lakh to Scania for the pilot bus. The first record of transactions between Scania Commercial and Volkswagen Finance is in FY16, for an amount of Rs 17.17 lakh, and filings for FY19 mention transactions amounting to a much larger figure of Rs 10.99 crore.

The ethanol-run green buses rolled out by the NMC are also likely of a different Scania model altogether. In December 2016, Gadkari launched the NMC’s “Apli Bus Pariyojana”—Our Bus Service—a new fleet of 195 buses that would include 55 ethanol-fuelled green buses, manufactured by Scania. The registration certificate of one of these buses identified its model as a “Scania City Wide LE 270 4X2”—not a Metrolink. When asked if all the NMC’s green buses were the same model, the Scania spokesperson Danielsson replied, “You are right about the ethanol bus model.” He added, “The Metrolink has no ethanol version.”


The day after the SVT story broke, Gadkari’s office had put out a statement on Twitter that “these accusations are malicious, fabricated and baseless.” Gadkari’s office further tweeted, “Since the entire episode of the Scania bus was an internal affair of the Swedish company, the statement of the Scania spokesperson has made it clear that Shri Gadkari and his family members have absolutely nothing to do with the purchase or sale of any Scania bus. Nor do they have anything to do with any firm or individual who might be linked with the purchase or sale of the bus.”

The Caravan’s investigation, however, found a dense network of interlinkages between Sudarshan Hospitality and the two flagship companies run by Sarang and Nikhil Gadkari namely, Manas Agro Industries & Infrastructure Limited and Cian Agro Industries & Infrastructure Limited, respectively. Manas Agro operates largely in five domains—sugar, power, distillery, bio-fertiliser, and LPG trading. Cian Agro, on the other hand, has branched out into a number of divisions, including spices, edible oil, home care, sanitation, and agricultural products.

Nitin Gadkari likes to boast of his sons’ business prowess. During a foundation day function of the MIDC Industries Association in Hingna in February 2018, Gadkari said that Sarang and Nikhil’s business had registered a turnover of Rs 1,100 crore and their “aim is to take it to Rs 5,000 crore.” In December 2020, addressing a gathering at MIDC Nagpur, Gadkari said his sons’ business had a turnover of Rs 1,300 crore. Sarang and Nikhil have been directors at their respective companies since 2016.  

The vast network of companies connecting Sudarshan Hospitality, Manas Agro and Cian Agro undoubtedly play a part in the success of the Gadkari business empire. The interconnected financial records of these companies raise various questions about their dealings that are not answered in their MCA records. Many of these companies have consistently recorded negative losses and a negative net worth, and their transactions include unsecured loans—that is, loans given without a collateral—of large amounts of money, which has in some instances prompted independent auditors to raise red flags. The transactions are made murkier by the fact that many of these companies share the same directors. Ultimately, the network of companies and their transactions irrefutably reveals that Sarang and Nikhil’s business empires were linked to Sudarshan Hospitality, in complete contradiction of the union minister’s claims.

Sudarshan Hospitality & Management Services Private Limited is a Nagpur-based company that was incorporated in June 2015. It is run by a married couple, Priyadarshan Pande and Gouri Pande, both of whom are listed as directors of the company. As per MCA documents, 100 percent of the company’s turnover comes from “accommodation and food services.” The company’s finances, as described in the documents, make for a dismal picture.

For the five years that its financial statements are available, the company has consistently incurred losses, barring in FY17. That year—incidentally, the same year that it is said to have purchased the Scania Metrolink—Sudarshan Hospitality received an unsecured loan of Rs 35 lakh from Manas Agro. It is unclear why this loan was provided, or why Gadkari’s office claimed that his family had no relation to the any company involved with the bus when his son’s company had offered such a large, unsecured loan to one such company. Manas Agro and Sarang Gadkari did not respond to emailed queries about the loan and their relationship with Sudarshan Hospitality.

Sudarshan Hospitality has also recorded a negative net worth throughout, at its lowest in FY20—with its liabilities exceeding its assets by a sum of Rs 10.48 lakhs. Yet, the company’s purse strings loosened repeatedly to disburse loans to parties and directors connected to it. The independent auditor’s report in FY20 observed that the company issued a loan of Rs 20.21 lakh to its director Priyadarshan Pande despite its negative net worth. “The purpose of the same was not disclosed,” the auditor said, with regard to the loan, adding, “The reason stated by the management was not satisfactory.”

That year, Sudarshan Hospitality also doled out a loan of Rs 4 lakh to another company, Shrinivas Hospitality & Management Services Private Limited, at zero interest. Both Priyadarshan and Gouri are directors at Shrinivas Hospitality as well, and the company has also been at the receiving end of Manas Agro’s largesse. In FY19, Manas Agro issued an unsecured loan of Rs 18 lakhs to Shrivinas Hospitality, which pertinently recorded it in its financial statements as a loan received “from sister concerns & company (sic) includes the same management.” It is unclear who the statement refers to, but it suggests that Manas Agro and Shrinivas Hospitality have at least some common management. Manas Agro’s financial statements do not specifically mention by name its loans to Sudarshan Hospitality and Shrinivas Hospitality.

Sudarshan Hospitality has connections to Nikhil Gadkari’s Cian Agro as well. The FY19 financial statements of Sudarshan Hospitality show that the company stood to receive a sum of Rs 4,16,500 from one MM Activ Sci-Tech Communications Private Limited, which in turn held 1,00,000 shares in Cian Agro, as of December 2020.

Another company that links Sudarshan Hospitality to Gadkari’s sons is Sec-One Infrastructure Private Limited. Kewal Patel, the director of Sec-One Infrastructure, is a 50-percent shareholder and a former director of Sudarshan Hospitality. Sec-One has financial dealings and leadership connections with both Manas Agro and Cian Agro, as well as Purti Solar Systems, the company that owned the Nagpur plot where I found the bus.

According to Sec-One Infrastructure’s balance sheet for FY19, the company owed Rs 3.34 crore to Cian Agro, which appears to have been repaid by the next year. Sec-One Infrastructure also had current liabilities—that is, liabilities for which payment is normally due within a year—towards Manas Agro totaling Rs 2.50 lakhs in FY19, which ballooned up to Rs 96.82 lakh by the next year. The financial statements reveal that Sec-One Infrastructure also owed Purti Solar Systems a sum of Rs 1.94 crore, which it recorded as a short-term borrowing in FY19 and FY20.

Sec-One Infrastructure’s short-term borrowings also reflected another large sum, of Rs 1.26 crore, owed to one Purti Marketing Private Limited, which held 45,20,000 shares in Cian Agro—about 16.15 percent, as of December 2020. Ameya Kiran Phaltankar, another director with Sec-One, is also a director in Purti Contract Faming Private Limited, which held 38,70,000 shares, or a 13.83 percent stake, in Cian Agro.

Yet another significant connection between Sec-One Infrastructure and Gadkari’s sons is through another company, Avinash Fuels Private Limited, from which Sec-One borrowed Rs 70.90 lakh in FY19. Avinash Fuels, in turn, has invested in both Manas Agro and Cian Agro. It held 3,857 shares in Manas Agro, which are valued at Rs 78.13 lakh as per the FY19 accounts. As of December 2020, Avinash Fuels held a 26.13-percent stake in Cian Agro, which is valued at Rs 17.74 crore.

The network of companies linking Gadkari to Sudarshan Hospitality appears endless, and digging through the trove of the MCA database kept revealing new connections. While these companies clearly establish the bottom line and demonstrate the falsehood of Gadkari’s claims, there are two more companies worth mentioning—Funcity Resorts and Recreation Private Limited and Greenedge Constructions Private Limited.

Priyadarshan Pande, the director of Sudarshan Hospitality and Shrinivas Hospitality, is also a director at Funcity Resorts. The company seems to show the most dismal finances of all the ones it is connected to. Funcity has consistently shown negative or nil revenue and an abysmal net worth. Many of its transactions are cloaked in opacity, including a loan of Rs 1.3 crore received in FY20 from an unknown source.

That year, Funcity Resorts also received a loan of Rs 75 lakh from Greenedge Construction, which is a promoter of Cian Agro. Greenedge held 3.09-percent stake in Cian Agro as of December 2020. Its FY19 statement also shows financial dealings with Manas Agro in that year and the previous one. Pertinently, one of the directors of Greenedge Constructions is Sandeep Mendjoge, who is also a director at Avinash Fuels and Purti Solar Systems, and held 10,000 shares in the latter as of FY19.

Whether in terms of net worth, revenue or profit, Manas Agro has seen rapid growth. In FY17, the company recorded a net profit of Rs 9.64 crore, an exponential jump from the previous year’s profit of Rs 46.16 lakh. By FY20, the company clocked a net profit of Rs 16.93 crore. Similarly, its revenue grew from Rs 524.10 crore in FY16 to Rs 668.71 crore in FY20. In the same period, its net worth grew by 40 percent, to Rs 468.76 crore.

Cian Agro has seen a similar upswing. From a revenue of Rs 112.80 crore in FY17, the company recorded a rise to Rs 213.97 crore in FY20. Since FY17, it has recorded handsome profits of over one crore, which peaked in FY19, at Rs 4.61 crore.

After navigating through this maze of companies that connect Sudarshan Hospitality, Manas Agro and Cian Agro, it is difficult to understand how Gadkari could have suggested that he has nothing to do with the companies associated with the bus. Emails sent to Gadkari, his children, and their respective company officials went unanswered. Priyadarshan, too, did not not respond to queries about the bus or about his business relations with the Gadkari empire. Mendjoge, the director of Purti Solar Systems, did not respond to queries about the bus’s presence in the company’s compound.

There was a third decal on the Scania Metrolink that is visible in the video as well—it reads “Orange Tours and Travels.” The organisation’s website was no longer active, but a cached copy available on the internet archive identified Priyadarshan as its proprietor.

Editor’s Note: The embedded image of the Facebook screenshots was changed after this article was published to include the name of the page and the posting details.