"Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh has personally overruled objections and passed benefit of Rs 1,500 crore to Kulwant Singh of Janata Land Promoters Limited by changing rules. The SAD demands a CBI probe on this largesse to Amarinder's blue-eyed boy Kulwant Singh," Sukhbir Badal, then general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, had said while addressing a press conference on December 3, 2006.
Sukhbir had then alleged that Amarinder had overruled 43 objections raised by officials of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) and the revenue department and even changed the master plan of SAS Nagar to allow a project of Janta Land Promoters Limited (JLPL) against the norms, thereby passing on "unprecedented benefits" to JLPL, including forest land.
A day after Sukhbir held the press conference, then SAD president Parkash Singh Badal met the Punjab governor and submitted a memorandum demanding a CBI probe. The matter echoed in Parliament on December 7 when Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Dhindsa raised the issue in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour and CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta and then BJP vice-president VK Malhotra, too, joined the SAD to raise slogans in the house demanding a CBI investigation.
The SAD made Amarinder's "undue favours to realtors" an election issue in the 2007 state polls and one of the first things the Badal government did on romping home in 2007 was to cancel the change of land use (CLU) of 32 realty projects, including that of JLPL in Sectors 82 and 91 of SAS Nagar. The same PUDA raised a demand notice of Rs 127 crore as external development charges and other fees from the JLPL.
Come 2014, the once "blue-eyed" boy of Amarinder is the SAD candidate from the Fatehgarh Sahib seat, fielded by none other than Sukhbir Badal, now SAD president and deputy chief minister. According to the documents accessed by HT, the memorandum of the Akali Dal to the governor had reached the PUDA office, but no inquiry was marked by the SAD-BJP government that had earlier demanded a CBI probe in the Lok Sabha.
In June 2007, NK Sharma, another realtor who had thrived under the Badals and is now the Dera Bassi MLA and chief parliamentary secretary, got relief for Kulwant through his political mentor, late cabinet minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh. In March 2009, Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) submitted an affidavit in the Punjab and Haryana high court, doing a U-turn on the charges to bail out the realtor. By this time, Kulwant had turned a "blue-eyed" boy of Sukhbir Badal and was funding the party's 2009 parliamentary elections. Later, the JLPL moved the high court, which dismissed the PUDA's demand notice for more money but the court made a strict observation on the "double standards" in the stand of the Badals. "Neither the department of housing and urban development nor SAD leader Parkash Singh Badal, who had submitted the memorandum to the governor, ordered any inquiry on their own complaint after forming the government," observed the court.
Now Kulwant a clean man: SAD
SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema, when contacted, claimed, "The SAD-BJP government had taken action but Kulwant got relief from the high court. "Now, he is a clean man as he was not indicted by any court. Thus, no question arises on his candidature, which has been finalised by the party," he said. Cheema, however, failed to answer why the Akali government did not mark an inquiry on the charges which Sukhbir Badal had levelled against Kulwant and Amarinder. "As an opposition party, we had limited access to government files. However, after forming the government in 2007, the case was not found suitable by the officers," he added.
Sequence of events
June 2005: Then Congress CM Amarinder overrules objections by FCR, PUDA to allow 200-acre project of JLPL
Dec 3, 2006: Sukhbir holds press conference, demands a CBI probe against Amarinder alleging scam of Rs 1,500 crore
Dec 6, 2006: SAD president Parkash Singh Badal, along with MLAs, submits a memorandum demanding a CBI probe
Dec 7, 2006: Dhindsa raises issue in Lok Sabha, demands a CBI probe
Mar 2007: Akali Dal forms government; PUDA raises demand notice of Rs 127 crore from JLPL
Jun 2007: NK Sharma, through late cabinet minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, approaches the SAD high command
Mar 2009: GMADA submits an affidavit in high court
Nov 2010: High court dismisses PUDA's demand notice, questions "double standards" of SAD
Then and now
2006: Why did the CM (Amarinder) give concessions to the JLPL under industrial parks even when it did not qualify? Why did the CM okay the project despite objections from PUDA and the FCR on granting it a licence? Why exclusive rights were given to the JLPL for change of land use while depriving farmers to sell it in the open market?
2014 (at a rally in Fatehgarh Sahib)
Kulwant Singh is an honest businessman, who scaled the heights with his hard work and will bring overall development to the constituency as he did in SAS Nagar.
2. Kulwant Singh
2006: Sukhbir Badal has manipulated the facts and is playing into the hands of cynical bureaucrats, my competitors and unreliable politicians. He claims the company has sold 250 showrooms for Rs 1,000 crore. I offer him to buy all these showrooms for Rs 400 crore because the Badal family has this capability. The other Rs 600 crore can be used for the development of Punjab.
"The matter is sorted out after the decision of the high court. I don't want to comment on the past happenings. Sukhbir is tirelessly working for the development of Punjab and has given me a chance to contribute to the cause.
3. One stand that did not change
CPI's Gurudas Dasgupta: I had raised the matter in 2006 and my views are still the same. It's the SAD which has changed its views and granted him a ticket. The CPI still demands a CBI probe into the murky land deals in SAS Nagar.
Quote, unquote: What the HC said on Nov 26, 2010
"The complainant (Badal) who presented the memorandum to the then Governor is at present at the helm of affairs but no inquiry has been conducted by the respondent state whose housing and urban development department had contended that the benefits given to the petitioner are in the nature of state largesse without considering the relevant parameters of larger public interest. Therefore, we do not find any substance in the stand taken by the respondent."