Stating that the legal notice served by the Congress “cannot silence her”, Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani Sunday dared Congress and its vice-president Rahul Gandhi to put her behind the bars. She was reacting to a legal notice that the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress had served to Irani on Saturday for allegations that the party had grabbed land belonging to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust in Amethi.
During her previous visit to Amethi on August 23, Irani had accused the Congress of “taking” away the industrial land acquired from farmers for setting up bicycle factory. She had said that the state government had given nearly 65-acre, acquired from farmers, to Samrat Bicycles for setting up its manufacturing unit and the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust had purchased it illegally on February 24 this year.
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Terming Irani’s allegations as “false and malicious”, the Congress had asked her to cease and desist from making any such imputations against the party, failing which it will have “no option” but to pursue appropriate legal remedies, both civil and criminal.
Irani, who lost to Rahul in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, said “some persons get disturbed” by her visits to Amethi and said that Congress’s move to send her a legal notice raised questions why a political party was so much “concerned for a trust”.
“If the Congress or Rahul Gandhi considers the women of this country ‘abla’ (weak), they should forget it. I am ready to receive 100 such notices and will continue to raise Amethi’s voice. If Rahul or Congress have the courage then let them put me behind bars. I will not remain silent,” the BJP leader.
She was addressing a gathering after distributing 50,000 saplings at Shivdulari Mahila Mahavidyalaya at Gungvaj village in the district.
She said she got the legal notice at her residence in New Delhi. Irani said her son opened the envelope and asked what crime she had committed. The BJP leader said, she told her son that she has committed “the crime of raising the voice of farmers in Amethi”.
Irani said the SDM has already issued an order and the land (of Samrat Bicycle) has been handed over to UP State Industrial Development Corporation.
“I will request UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav to either establish a factory on that land or return it to farmers,” she said.
As she was leaving the venue, a group 150 siksha mitras (contractual teachers), who are demanding regularisation of their jobs, gheraoed Irani and raised slogans.
“Till the state government sends the report, we are not in a position to do anything on this issue. I can only say that I will try my level best to protect the interests of siksha mitras,” she told them .
Around 1.72 lakh siksha mitras in Uttar Pradesh have been agitating regularisation of their jobs.