Executive Director and MD of Swan Energy Ltd in Gujarat Nikhil Vasantlal Merchant, whose proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an open secret in the upper echelons of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the government, is truly experiencing ‘Achche Din’ as public sector firms line up to do business with him, says a report ‘The Platinum Touch of Nikhil Merchant’ published by The Wire on Thursday.
According to the report, during the last days of the UPA government, the Income Tax department had carried out raids on Gautam Adani, a businessman known to be close to the Prime Minister, and Swan Energy Ltd, a little known firm that despite its name was largely involved in the textile and property business.
The company, which posted modest to negligible profits in the past three years, now has a proposed LNG terminal project worth ₹5,600 crore on the basis of off-take agreements with public sector oil companies and investments from two Gujarat-based PSUs.
Here are the major takeaways from The Wire’s report:
Merchant in a written reply to The Wire ruled out allegations of favouritism against him, claiming that all government decisions taken were strictly within official norms.
Curiously, almost everyone The Wire contacted for a comment, including Union petroleum and natural gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, did not respond to queries. Gujarat’s energy minister Saurabh Patel, who went to college with Merchant and was his hostel mate, also denied any favouritism shown towards Swan Energy.