Firing a salvo at senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Kangra MP Shanta Kumar, party’s Punjab leader Manoranjan Kalia questioned why he (Shanta) had not raised his voice on the appointment of chief parliamentary secretaries (CPSes) when he was the Punjab BJP in-charge.
Shanta had written an article in a vernacular daily criticising appointments of CPSes after the Punjab and Haryana high court, on August 12, had quashed 18 such appointments by the Parkash Singh Badal government.
In an open letter, Kalia questioned why Shanta, who was the Punjab BJP affairs in-charge in 2011, did not oppose the appointments if they were wrong when the SAD-BJP alliance formed government in the state. “Your views in the newspaper article have raised questions on our party as well. Why have you missed your tenure as the CM of Himachal Pradesh from 1990 to 1992, in which you had nine ministers, three state ministers and two CPSes? Your article is full of self-praise,” Kalia, who is BJP MLA from Jalandhar Central, said in the letter to Shanta.
Both the leaders had been at loggerheads ever since Kalia was removed from the Punjab cabinet as the local bodies minister when Shanta was state party affairs in-charge. Again in 2012, Kalia missed the cabinet berth despite being one of the senior-most MLAs of the party in the state. Shanta was still the party in-charge.
Says Shanta misused his position as CM
Kalia’s letter, which he posted on his Facebook page, also questioned Shanta over the permission for exchanging a private land in Palampur with a government land in the name of his hotelier son, Vikram Sharma, in 1991, when he was the Himachal CM. Kalia said under which policy the exchange was allowed. “Isn’t this a misuse of government position for personal benefit?” questioned Kalia.
Kalia said a letter of the financial commissioner dated June 12, 1991, permitting exchange of over 1 hectares of land owned by Vikram Sharma with government land had no mentioned of the beneficiary’s father. The land exchanged is opposite Yamini Hotel in Palampur, in which Vikram is a partner.
The hotel came into existence after Shanta’s first tenure as the Himachal CM ended in February 1980. He said that exchange of land was allowed in 1991 by relaxing norms during Shanta’s second tenure (1990-1992) as the CM, alleged Kalia.
Shanta Kumar was not available for comments. The person who attended the phone told HT that he was resting in his Palampur home and was recovering from fever and sore throat. Kalia also refused to talk saying the letter was based on facts and he doesn’t want to say anything beyond that.