Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Monday defended his government’s decision to re-allot prime land in Sector 6 of Panchkula to Congress-linked Associated Journals Limited (AJL).
The senior Congress leader also accused the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) of acting like a “sahyogi dal” (alliance partner) of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rather than playing the role of the opposition party.
“There is nothing wrong in the decision to re-allot land to AJL. There was no loss to the government or any agency. The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) is a ‘no-profit-no-loss’ organisation,” Hooda told mediapersons in Chandigarh on Monday.
On May 5, the vigilance bureau registered a case of cheating, breach of trust and corruption against Hooda, who was also the HUDA chairman in his capacity as the state’s chief minister. Officials of HUDA and office-bearers of AJL -- the promoters of ‘The National Herald’ newspaper -- were also charged with illegal re-allotment of the plot to the AJL in 2005.
The AJL is also linked to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
On May 3, leader of opposition in Haryana assembly Abhay Singh Chautala had, in a letter to Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, demanded registration of a criminal case against Congress-linked AJL and Hooda in the case.
On Monday, Hooda slammed the INLD and the BJP on the issue, terming the case against him and others as “revenge politics” by the incumbent Khattar government.
“I appeal to the (Haryana) government to investigate and register all cases in one go. The allotment of land to the Devi Lal Trust (linked to the INLD) should also be investigated,” Hooda said.
“The BJP is not doing anything for welfare of the people. They are only working to take revenge against political opponents. The attempt is to frame Congress leaders in different cases. We will not get scared,” Hooda said.
However, Khattar defended the registration of the vigilance case against Hooda. “We had said earlier that action would be taken against whosoever is involved in wrongdoing. We had also said that those who are investigated would complain that we are seeking revenge,” Khattar said in Faridabad on Monday.
INLD leader Chautala, in his letter, had demanded that the trustees and directors of the AJL and former chief minister Hooda should be booked under the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act.
Referring to media reports regarding plot number C-17 at Sector 6 in Panchkula, he said the 3,360 square-metre-land was re-allotted to AJL on June 29, 2005. The plot was allotted to AJL in 1982 but taken back in 1996 after the company failed to construct a building on it.
“No sooner was the Congress voted to power in 2005, that the then chief minister Hooda initiated the process of restoring the plot to AJL on a representation made on the firm’s behalf by one of the trustees,” Chautala said in the letter.
Documents revealed that Haryana’s joint legal remembrancer Jagdeep Jain had, on August 17, 2005, strongly opposed the plot’s re-allotment. However, Hooda then overruled Jain’s note.
On his part, Hooda defended his action, saying there was “no wrongdoing and that everything was done as per the procedure”.
After the re-allotment, the AJL completed the construction on the plot. However, the proposed ‘Navjivan’ newspaper has yet to see the light of the day.