In more signs of trouble for the Congress in Haryana, the BJP-led government on Wednesday announced a probe into “land deals” that took place during the party’s 10-year rule in the state.
This comes about a week after Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar ordered a vigilance probe into the allotment of industrial plots by the previous government, allegedly to relatives and associates of the then chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
Today’s announcement came from Education, Archaeology and Museums Minister Rambilas Sharma, who had called a press conference to highlight plans to construct museums across the state. IAS officer Ashok Khemka, Secretary, Archaeology and Museums, was also present on the occasion.
When asked about the government’s stand on the alleged land scams that took place during the Congress government, Sharma said, “We shall be probing all such land deals. A retired Supreme Court judge shall be heading the inquiry commission. A notification in this regard shall be issued on May 15, when the Haryana BJP unit holds a meeting of the state executive in Kurukshetra.”
But when contacted, P Raghvendra Rao, Additional Chief Secretary, Town and Country Planning Department, told The Indian Express: “I do not know in what context the minister made such a statement… nothing has reached my level. It could be at the political level only.”
Earlier, a former Congress minister, Sukhbir Kataria, was booked in over a dozen cases related to the alleged fake voter scam. Last week, the Haryana police slapped another case against him.
Police also booked two former Congress MLAs, Rao Daan Singh and Dharam Singh Chhoker, on charges of fraud last week. The duo, along with nine others, allegedly duped a Chandigarh resident of several crores of rupees while promising him land in Gurgaon to develop residential projects.
Five more former Congress MLAs are facing a probe in the change of land use (CLU) controversy. The accused allegedly demanded crores of rupees as bribes for clearing CLUs during sting operations carried out by people linked to the Indian National Lok Dal.
Accusing the BJP of political vendetta, Haryana PCC chief Ashok Tanwar alleged “misuse” of official machinery. “They are in power and are hunting their political opponents. Our party shall reply to all these moves politically. It is nothing but a political vendetta.”
Hooda has denied the charges on the allotment of industrial plots. “The plots were given on merit. There is a committee that makes allotments. It just came to me for approval. Just because allegations are levelled against somebody, one does not become a culprit. Once the investigation takes place, facts will be clear,” he said earlier this week.