Dubious land allotments in Madhya Pradesh
Posted April 13, 2011on:
The BJP government of Madhya Pradesh appears little fazed by the Supreme Court verdict quashing the allotment of land to the Kushabhau Thakre Memorial Trust. “The government would study the judgement and remove the shortcomings in allotment of the land” was the initial official reaction of the party, which indicated that the government was little prepared to give up the party’s claim over the 20 acres of land which was originally meant for residential purposes.
The land was allotted by the government even before the Kushabhau Thakre Memorial Trust was registered. That, though, was only one of the infirmities which had prompted the Supreme Court bench of Justices G S Sanghvi and A K Ganguly to declare the allotment as an act of favouritism and nepotism and in gross violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. The court also declared as illegal an amendment in the land development plan that changed the land use of the site. BJP bigwigs like Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Venkaiah Naidu formed the Kushabhau Trust for the benefit of which the State government had resorted to one illegality after another illegality.
Allotment of prime land at nominal rates to party men, party organisations, industrialists who have assured returns to the party or obscure organisations floated by the party men has been the only activity which the BJP governments in Madhya Pradesh have been pursuing assiduously. According to the information received by Samajwadi Jana Parishad, Madhya Pradesh, under the Right to Information Act, the present government has allotted land, either free of cost or at an annual lease rent of Rupee one, to a large number of organisations, all affiliated to or managed by the BJP. Some of these organisations are: Dr Lalta Prasad Khare Trust Satna, 4 acres; Saraswati Shishu Mandir, Chanderi 2.75 acres; Rashtrotthan Nyas Gwalior, .75 acres.
Samajwadi Jana Parishad president Anurag Modi says that the information received by his organisation shows that the government has allotted 43 acres of land either free of cost or at a nominal lease rent in the name of Saraswati Shishu Mandir at 31 places. The land measuring from 5,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet has been allotted to the BJP for construction of the party office in 25 districts.
In several cases the land has been allotted to the industrialists (in 2009-2010), according to the guidelines pertaining to the year 2007-2008. The beneficiaries under this category include Dhirubhai Ambani Memorial Trust (125 acres), Advance Science and Education Society, New Delhi, (10.40 acres), Digambar Jain Sarvodaya Vidya Gyanpeeth Samiti, Bhopal, (25 acres), Nava Uday Charitable Trust, new Delhi, (26 acres), Chirayu Charitable Foundation, Bhopal, (30 acres), Manohar Charitable Trust (140 acres), Ramkrishna and Sons Charitable Trust, New Delhi, (16 acres), Rajgarh Palace Hotel and Resources Limited, Chhatarpur, (11.38 acres), Agrawal Indotex, Khandwa, (15 acres).Besides, the land has been allotted free of cost to caste organisations at various places.
Fraud and deceit
Some three years ago, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) spokesman K.K.Mishara had lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta (who had registered the case but is still sitting over it) that the BJP government of the State had made 67 allotments of land measuring over 200 acres at Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Khandwa, Balaghat, Pipariya, Shyopur, Sagar and other places, valued at between Rs 500 crore and Rs 600 crore. The beneficiaries, according to Mishra’s complaint, included the RSS, BJP, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Saraswati Shishu Mandir, the Parivar-run Bal Kalyan Samitis, and the construction companies and housing societies controlled by the BJP leaders. Mishra had annexed copies of all the allotment orders and sought cancellations of the allotments.
As fraud and deceit are integral part of Chauhan’s nature, only a scrutiny of each case will show how the allotments have actually been made. His fraud was once exposed by one of his cabinet colleagues (how else would the outsiders know to which extent this disciple of Advani could go?)
Akhand Pratap Singh, who was a cabinet minister during Chauhan’s first tenure (now he is out of the BJP, naturally), had opposed at a cabinet meeting the proposal to allot 13.766 hectares of land in the chief minister’s Budhni Assembly constituency by overruling the objections of the revenue and finance departments to Narmada Samagra Trust floated by Anil Madhav Dave. The land was the pastureland belonging to the poor people of Ramnagar village on the bank of river Narmada. Under the rules, this land could not be converted into the land for construction of houses. Dave’s phoney Trust was to be allotted the land at throwaway prices. Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s criminal intent had become clear in giving the khasra number of some other land in the newspaper advertisements inviting objections, so that the genuine owners of the land did not know and did not raise objections.
Dave, an RSS strongman and now BJP member of Rajya Sabha, is a shining star on the corrupt horizon of the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, enjoying more powers and State-sponsored facilities than any cabinet minister without holding any position of responsibility in the government. His clout can be gauged from the fact that he was declared defaulter by a nationalised bank for not repaying the loan but he continues to guide the government as nothing had happened.
The ruckus created by Akhand Pratap Singh had unnerved Chauhan, which always happens when somebody challenges him face to face. He would probably have scrapped the proposal altogether but for the prompting by other ministers who wanted to show their loyalty to the RSS. Still, the cabinet reduced the area of the land from 13.766 hectares to four hectares for allotment to Dave’s Trust and decided that the allotment would not be made immediately but this chunk of land would be “reserved” for allotment to the Trust at a later date. As the 2008 Assembly elections were due in a month or so and this could be a weapon in the hands of the opposition to hurt the BJP interests, Dave wrote to the chief minister two days later asking him not to consider his application for allotment of the land. He was quick to send the copies of his letter to the media for proper publicity. He had, however, not remembered the media when he had formed his dubious Narmada Samagra Trust or when he had applied for allotment of land to the Trust, nor had he publicised what exactly the Trust was supposed to do.
Digvijay Singh’s role
The BJP leaders’ love for land is not a new phenomenon. The government of Sunderlal Patwa (1990-92) had also made allotments to the Parivar-related organisations. One of the first tasks of Digvijay Singh on becoming the head of the Congress government in December 1993 was to constitute a one-man committee to go into the land allotments made in urban areas by the BJP Government between March 1990 and December 1992. It was headed by retired chief secretary Jagatpati.
The Jagatpati committee submitted 37 reports during its six-year term. Five of these reports related to the Chhattisgarh region and were sent there for action. The committee did a commendable job by pinpointing where and how the law/rules were violated in making the allotments. Digvijay Singh, however, never proceeded against those responsible for violation of the law. Instead, he regularised the allotments in which Patwa’s family members were personally involved or interested and cancelled some of the allotments. For the rest, he would keep the reports of the Jagatpati inquiry committee on his table in the Assembly and flaunt it when the opposition BJP tried to raise some cantankerous issue.