Congress hits back on Gurgaon land issue (Lead)

August 3rd, 2011 - 10:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) The Congress Wednesday denied that land had been acquired for the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust and termed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attack over the issue as “irresponsible politics”.

“It’s tilting at windmills on non-existent facts,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters.

“First of all no land has been acquired by the trust… the trust is not the owner of the land,” Singhvi said.

The trust, which is managed by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi and daughter Priyanka Vadra, has been accused of unlawfully acquiring land in Ullawas village of Gurgaon.

The opposition has alleged that the land which was the collective property of the village was given to the trust and H.R. Sachdeva, a dentist alleged to be close to the Gandhi family.

Seeking to clear the air on the issue, Singhvi said that only 5.3 acres of land was taken on lease for 33 years by the trust fully in accordance with law.

“The land has been taken on lease. The trust applied for lease and it got the lease according to the rule,” he said.

“The land is still very much the property of the village panchayat.”

The Congress spokesperson said the trust applied to the village panchayat for the land in July 2009, and it was approved by the panchayat in August that year.

“The village panchayat agreed to give the land at concessional rates of Rs.1,000 per acre per year. But the trust wrote back and said they wanted to take the land at market rates,” Singhvi said.

“Finally the land was taken at the rate of Rs.3 lakh per acre per year, on the whole Rs.15 lakh per year,” he said.

The Congress spokesperson said that the BJP has been creating an issue without knowing the facts, and also accused the media of publishing information without ascertaining all details.

“This is irresponsible politics, the way the issue was raised in Rajya Sabha, no mature political party should raise issues without checking,” he said.

The upper house was adjourned twice Wednesday morning as the BJP raised the issue of the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.

BJP president Nitin Gadkari also demanded an enquiry in the matter Wednesday and asked Sonia Gandhi to give a clarification.

“All laws were set aside by the Haryana government to give this land worth Rs.50 crore on lease to the Gandhi family. The land was denotified before it was leased to Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and daughter Priyanka. Why this double standards of the Gandhi family?” Gadkari said.

He also sought the resignation of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for illegal denotification of the land.

The opposition had also drawn parallels between the Gurgaon incident and that in Uttar Pradesh’s Bhatta-Parsaul, where Rahul Gandhi has been leading an active campaign against forced land acquisition.

Bhatta-Parsaul in Noida has witnessed widespread discontent since the past few months with farmers demanding higher compensation for their land acquired by the Uttar Pradesh government.

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