A Kerala-based builder has sent a legal notice to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and six senior party leaders, alleging that his firm was not paid for building the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Development Studies in the Neyyar Dam area near the state capital. Sonia had inaugurated the research centre, meant to groom young leaders, in 2013.
According to a spokesman of the Heather Constructions Ltd, the party failed to pay its dues, amounting to Rs 2.78 crore, despite many reminders. He claimed that all bills were submitted to the PCC in 2013. “Our repeated pleas fell on deaf ears. We were forced to move the court,” the spokesman said. Besides Sonia, notices were served to six senior leaders, including former CM Oommen Chandy, PCC chief VM Sudheeran and state opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.
However, the party has ridiculed the builder and a section of the media for dragging the Congress president into a local issue.
In Delhi, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “The issue has been nearly sorted out. Within 24 hours all parties will sit together and settle the issue.” He added that there was no criminality involved. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said, “We couldn’t cough up arrears due to some financial constraints. We are in touch with the builder to make an out-of-court settlement.” He added that the pending dues were around Rs 34 lakh. Chennithala was the PCC chief when the deal to build the institute was inked.
However, the counsel for builder VA Baburaj said though the present suit was filed for Rs 34 lakh the actual arrears would run into `2.78 crore. The additional sessions court in Thiruvananthapuram will hear the plea next month.