The opposition Congress has accused former Himachal Pradesh chief minister PK Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur of causing a loss of Rs 100 crore to the state exchequer through the allotment of land to the state cricket association, the latest in a string of attacks on the BJP.
The transfer of land smacks of "blatant constitutional impropriety, parent conflict of interest, glaring misuse of office, usurpation of public property and duping of public exchequer", Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh told reporters in New Delhi.
The Congress said the allotment of 16 acres of prime land in Dharamsala for a stadium had exposed the "true face of the BJP".
“I wonder if Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise of acting against corruption would apply retrospectively in this case," Ramesh said, seeking action against Thakur, who is a Lok Sabha member and president of BJP's Yuva Morcha.
Producing documents in support of the accusation against Dhumal, Ramesh said the land was leased for the measly sum of Rs 1 a month. This, he said, went against the state government’s rule for leasing land at Rs 94 lakh per annum.
"This not only led to a loss of Rs 100 crore to the exchequer, (Dhumal) approved the decision in the cabinet on May 27, 2002, undermining the notings of senior officials of the state government," he said.
The request for the allotment of land came only after the approval was given, he alleged.
Thakur, who is also the secretary of the BCCI, was the president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) when land for the stadium was given on lease.
The Congress had earlier attacked the BJP-led government over the help allegedly extended by foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje to tainted former IPL chief Lalit Modi and the Vyapam recruitment and admission scam in Madhya Pradesh.
The fresh attack from the Congress came at a time when the monsoon session of Parliament is stuck in a logjam.
Ramesh said the issue is being raised now because the Congress has “got all the papers” and prepared a dossier and to put before the people.
The opposition, including the Congress and Left parties, have said that they will not allow Parliament to function till the BJP leaders resign, while BJP leaders and ministers have made it clear there will be no resignation and the government is not going to "oblige" the opposition.
The Congress further alleged that conditions set for the leased land in Dharamsala were violated because it was used for commercial purposes. Ramesh referred to a firm called Aveda which he said benefited to the tune of more than Rs 1 crore a year from the commercial use of the land.
HPCA handed over a hotel and a spa constructed on the land to Aveda in gross violation of a cabinet decision, Ramesh said.
To escape being held accountable, Thakur converted the HPCA into a company under section 25 of the Companies Act of 1956 from a society registered under the Societies Registration Act in 2012 without prior approval, Ramesh alleged.
The name of the body was changed to the identical acronym of Himalayan Players Cricket Association (HPCA) and then changed back to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) but it remains a company, he claimed.
Asked why the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh was not acting against Dhumal, Ramesh said the government will do “what is required to be done".
He added: "We cannot reverse the decision as far as the stadium goes. But there are options and that will certainly be explored.
"The commercial use can certainly be reviewed and the Himachal Pradesh government is well within its right to review the commercial use. They can certainly review the lease on rent," he said.