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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Punjab assembly erupts over realty deals of leaders

Sukhdeep Kaur, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, November 02, 2013
First Published: 12:20 IST(2/11/2013) | Last Updated: 12:38 IST(2/11/2013)

On the concluding day of the five-day session, the Punjab assembly again erupted over realty deals of both ruling and opposition leaders. Soon after zero hour began, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who claimed to have spent a "sleepless night" on Thursday to dig out details of land deals of Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and his younger brother Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa, sought time from speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal to make his statement.

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Congress MLA from Mohali Balbir Singh Sidhu launched a counter-attack, raking up the controversy surrounding the realty projects of Dera Bassi MLA and Shiromani Akali Dal treasurer NK Sharma. Showing a copy of Hindustan Times, Sidhu accused Sharma of committing a fraud by submitting a false affidavit for seeking environment clearance and starting construction without getting the same. Amid noisy scenes, Leader of the Opposition Sunil Jakhar intervened to demand an independent probe into all charges, both against Bajwas and Sharma. "A probe should be ordered into all such deals in Chandigarh's periphery by a sitting high court judge," he added.

An enraged Sharma attacked Sidhu, saying that unlike him, he (Sidhu) was facing murder charges in a land-grab case. As allegations and counter-allegations flew thick and fast, Atwal adjourned the House for 15 minutes. When the House resumed, Congress MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra, who came to occupy the chair next to Jakhar, had a heated exchange of words with Majithia. Once again, Sidhu trained his guns on old political rival Sharma and questioned the speed of construction of the latter's projects (HT had reported that his company completed 22,000 square metre of construction of Savitry Greens-2 residential towers at Gazipur village in less than two months, as per an undertaking given for environment clearance).

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"I can build 1 lakh square metre in one month, what is 22,000 square metre? If some norms have not been fulfilled, I am ready to raze the construction. I am also ready to face any inquiry, CBI, FBI or of any other agency," Sharma said. Jakhar maintained a stoic silence and finally Congress MLA Lal Singh tried to teach both ruling and opposition benches the virtues of a constructive debate. "Yesterday, Partap Bajwa was the target and today it is NK Sharma. People of Punjab are watching us and laughing at their leaders," he said. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal here took a dig at Lal Singh by asking him if he was saying this from the heart.

After zero hour, Majithia was allowed to give his statement. Reading out details from the dossier prepared by his department, he mixed barbs and figures to hit at the beleaguered state Congress chief. He said the realty company PCB was registered in their name (Partap Bajwa and his wife) and had their residence address. "As far as I can recall, it is the same address where Bajwa used to invite me once in a while before becoming the state Congress chief.

(Above: A view of Savitry Greens-2 residential project at Gajipur village in Zirakpur. HT Photo)

The company, with authorised capital of Rs. 1 lakh, paid Rs. 2.98 crore for 108 bighas in Bhronjian village. While the Rs. 14 lakh stamp duty was paid through cheque, the remaining money was paid in cash. Was it black money and came from Swiss bank accounts?" Majithia said.

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He went on to accuse Fateh Bajwa of occupying shamlat deh land in Nada and Karoran village through frontman Jagdish Bishnoi. "The land also exchanged hands between them and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sukhpal Khaira," Majithia said.

At this point, Bajwa's wife, Qadian MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, rose up to ask Majithia what was his department doing all this while if it knew about their deals. "Now that the USP (unique selling proposition) of the Punjab Congress chief is going up in Punjab, you are trying to run him down. We only fear God, we do not fear you," she said. This invited a sarcastic, "oh, oh" from Sukhbir.

Majithia, who was ironically reading out details from Justice Kuldip Singh Tribunal report his government and department are dithering on implementing its recommendations said none of the charges he had levelled were framed up. Here, Gidderbaha Congress MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring pointed out that the same tribunal had also named those occupying high places in their government. "Your police chief and some other top officers too stand indicted, why are you adopting a pick-and-choose policy to target Congress leaders," he added.

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