The Congress in Himachal Pradesh wants cancelled an allotment of land made by the state government to yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s aide Acharya Balkrishna at 50% of the market price.
Former prime minister Indira Gandhi had wanted to build a holiday home for the National Cadet Corps on the plot, the ownership of which vests in the governor of Himachal Pradesh. A makeshift Indira Holiday Home exists but the project did not quite take off.
Last year the BJP government in the state had leased for 99 years the plot measuring 96.2 bigha (one bigha = 8,470 square feet) to the acharya at Kehlog village in Solan district for a consideration of about Rs 17.3 lakh, making the price per bigha approximately Rs 18,000, though the prevailing rate was Rs 30,000-40,000.
“The land to Ramdev had been allotted (in accordance with) the prevailing market rates .... (It) will help in generating employment in the state,” said health minister Rajiv Bindal.
However, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Kaul Singh said: “Allotting land to Baba Ramdev at throwaway prices is totally wrong. The (BJP) government should explain the reasons for this.”
The land in question has an ancient history. The erstwhile ruler of Patiala, Maharaja Yadvinder Singh, had transferred land measuring 118.9 bighas to the governor in 1969-70. However, before this it was “unofficially” gifted to Indira Gandhi when she visited the place with her father, the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru, in the early sixties.
The idea of the holiday home had germinated then. Until the land was allotted to the acharya, large chunks were utilised to hold camps, especially during summer and winter.
Sources say of the 118.9 bighas, apart from the 96.2 bigha leased to the Patanjali Yog Peeth, run by the acharya, 6.8 bigha is still in the name of the Indira Holiday Home and 15.9 bigha with the state government.