Hoping to create an anti-incumbency wave to make a dent in West Bengal politics, the Aam Aadmi Party has decided to carpet-bomb the ruling party with a slew of PILs, mostly dealing with alleged irregularities in land allotment to private parties.
A group of 25 lawyers in the legal cell of AAP’s Bengal chapter have already finalised the documents for 12 such public interest litigations (PILs). AAP members and volunteers would file the first PIL against a private developer and the land department of the state government in the Calcutta High Court on March 15.
“A good quantum of land was acquired for the water works of Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA) in south Kolkata. However the project was never implemented and the land was later sold to a private party without floating tenders. How was the price of land determined? The government and private party entered into a joint venture deal and a housing project came up in the area. We want the settlement to be termed as null and void and the public money be recovered from the private company,” said Avik Saha, a veteran lawyer of Calcutta High Court, and a member of the AAP.
Most of the other PILs also deal with the land-related issues. “The maximum corruption has happened in the state over land deals. But the political leaders who are responsible for such deals are moving free,” Saha said, adding they will move a petition against the state power department and private power utility CESC. The company is owned by the Sanjiv Goenka Group and supplies electricity to Calcutta and its suburbs.
“One PIL would be filed on the alleged illegal sanction of a mall recently built by the Sanjiv Goenka group. The mall has been sanctioned violating section 51 (7) of Kolkata Municipal Corporation Building Rules 1990. There is also a PIL on the electricity tariff fixed by the power supply company of the same group. The group has presented manipulated facts and figures before the regulatory committee to fix an abnormally high electricity tariff,” Saha said.
He, however, clarified that his party has “not ordered us to file the PILs”. “We have a standard instruction from the party —- take every possible step to fight and expose corruption. We have decided to fight corruption through the administrative and judicial path,” Saha said.
The PILs would be filed by individuals, who are member or volunteers of AAP. “But the party would not be the petitioner since a PIL filed by a political party may be termed as politically motivated,” he added.
Asked how many seats the AAP will contest in the Lok Sabha elections, Sangeeta Das, a party volunteer, said, “We are not concerned about that. We are not one of the main parties in the state. But we are bound to make the people aware of the (prevalent) corruption and the corrupt people. People would question them. And we would do it before the election,” she said.
According to the party records, AAP has got 2.5 lakh members in Bengal. “We have received 50 applications from people who want to contest the Lok Sabha elections,” a party member said.
The AAP state’s unit’s “Jhadu Chalo Yatra” to familiarise the people in Bengal with the party and its agenda concluded recently.