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.