Monday January 27, 2020
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Congress accuses BJP’s Dhumal of causing Rs 100 crore loss to the exchequer


New Delhi/Patna: Accusing BJP leaders Prem Kumar Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur of “abusing authority” in Himachal Pradesh, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said that their actions would cause Rs.100 crore loss to the exchequer. Thakur, the BJP Lok Sabha member from Hamirpur, however, termed the allegations “baseless”.

Prem Kumar Dhumal
BJP Leader Prem Kumar Dhumal

Ramesh told reporters in Delhi that when Dhumal, the former Himachal chief minister, was in power in 2002, he allotted 16 acres of land in Dharamsala to the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), headed by his son Thakur.

He said the land was for building a stadium. The then Himachal Pradesh government, which should have annually earned Rs.94 lakh as rent for the land, got a mere Rs.12.

Stating that the state cabinet headed by Dhumal “approved the grant of land to HPCA for 99 years but changed the lease amount to a token rate of Re.1 per month”, Ramesh added: “Dhumal and his son Thakur together have misused the public property and the office held by them.”

“The lease is for 99 years. Therefore, the government will bear the loss that will be around Rs.100 crore,” he added.

“Blatant constitutional impropriety, conflict of interest, glaring misuse of office, usurpation of public property, and duping of public exchequer is writ large in their case,” Ramesh said.

He said that since 2002, Dhumal and his son Thakur misused power “in the name of cricket in Himachal Pradesh”.

“They have grabbed the land illegally and it is a matter of conflict of interest,” the Congress leader said, adding that the stadium was also being used for commercial purposes in gross violation of the approval given by the state cabinet.

Taking potshots at the Narendra Modi government, he said: “The BJP and its leaders have become habitual offenders in committing gross constitutional impropriety, misuse of office, conflict of interest and brazen conduct, which is the very anti-thesis of constitutional democracy.

Taking a jibe at Modi and other BJP leaders for “arrogant refusal” in affixing responsibility of union minister Sushma Swaraj, and chief ministers Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Ramesh asked: “Will he (Modi) take action now?”

Thakur, who was in Bihar, later said there was no truth in the Congress party’s allegations against him and his father Dhumal.

“This is a baseless allegation leveled against me and my father,” Thakur said, adding that he will reply to the allegations soon.

BJP leader and union minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Congress was running out of issues.

“This matter is already in the court, no one from the Congress appears there (in court). They should if they are so serious about this,” she said and added: “The fact is that the Congress just wants press coverage and is running out of issues.”


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Himachal govt orders probe into BJP leader Dhumal’s assets


Shimla: The Congress government in Himachal Pradesh on Friday ordered a vigilance probe into the charge that BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal and his family amassed assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, an official said.

“The government has ordered an inquiry into the charge on the acquisition of properties by Dhumal during his two stints as chief minister of Himachal. It will be conducted by the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau,” a senior police official, requesting anonymity, said.

He said the investigating agency would soon send a questionnaire to Dhumal and his sons, including the member of parliament Anurag Thakur, to seek their responses to the allegations.

In August, Dhumal had demanded a probe and action from Prime Minister Narendra Modi into the charge that he and his family amassed assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

In a letter, provided to the media by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Dhumal said the Congress government had unleashed a malicious campaign against him and his family since it came to power (in December 2012).

“Like on previous occasions, a list of assets allegedly owned by my family and me has been sent to the state additional director general of vigilance. The complaint is without any affidavit,” said the letter dated August 7.

On the basis of this list, the chief minister (Virbhadra Singh) and the vigilance officials have been conducting a misinformation campaign against him, said Dhumal.

Asking the prime minister to secure an affidavit from the complainant, Dhumal said an inquiry either by a judge of the Supreme Court or by the CBI should be conducted into the allegations.

Dhumal’s elder son Anurag Thakur is secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and a three-time MP from Hamirpur.

His youngest son Arun Dhumal is vice-president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association.

The former chief minister has said similar allegations were levelled against him by the Congress during the 2003 assembly elections too.

(With inputs from agencies)