New Delhi: Congress on Sunday opened another front against BJP as it raked up the row surrounding allotment of land to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association during its rule and accused former CM PK Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur of causing a loss of Rs 100 crore to the state exchequer.
The transfer of land smacks of "blatant constitutional impropriety, parent conflict of interest, glaring misuse of office, usurpation of public property and duping of public exchequer," party spokesperson Jairam Ramesh told reporters in New Delhi.
While there was no let up in the Congress attack on the government on the Lalit Modi and the Vyapam controversy, the party said land allotment in Dharmasala further exposes the "true face of BJP".
"I wonder if Prime Minister Narendra Modi's promise of acting against corruption would apply retrospectively in this case," Ramesh questioned and sought action against Thakur who is a Lok Sabha MP and president of BJP's yuva morcha wing.
Thakur, who is holding the post of BCCI secretary, was the president of HPCA when the land for the stadium was given on lease.
Asked why the issue was being raised now, he said, "when we got all the papers, we prepared a dossier and hence have put up before the public".
The fresh attack from the Congress has come at a time when Parliament is stuck in a logjam. Producing documents in support of the accusation against the Dhumal-led government, Ramesh said the land for the stadium was given on lease at a measly sum of Rs one per month against the state government rule of leasing out at Rs 94 lakh per annum.
"This not only led to a loss Rs 100 crore to the exchequer, the CM approved the decision in the Cabinet on May 27, 2002 undermining the notings of senior officials of the state government," he said, claiming the request for the allotment came only after the approval was given.
While the Opposition including the Congress and the Left parties have taken a line of "no resignation, no discussion", BJP leaders and ministers are making it clear that there will be no resignation and government is not going to "oblige" the Opposition.
Ramesh said the Dhumal and the BJP government proceeded to transfer the 16 acre of prime land in Dharmasala even without there being an applicant from HPCA.
Not only this, in gross violations of the conditions set, the property was used for commercial purposes, Ramesh said and referred to one Aveda company which is benefiting to the tune of over Rs one crore a year from the commercial exploitation.
HPCA had handed over a hotel and a spa constructed on the land to the company in gross violation of the cabinet decision.
Further, to escape from being held accountable in any manner, Thakur also converted HPCA into a section 25 company under the Companies Act of 1956 in Kanpur from a society registered under the Societies Registration Act in 2012 without prior approval, Ramesh said.
The name of the body was also changed with an identical acronym of Himalayan Players Cricket Association (HPCA) and then again changed back to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) but it remains a sec 25 company, Ramesh alleged.
To a question as to why the Congress ruled government in the state was not acting against Dhumal, he said, the "government will do what is required to be done".
"We cannot reverse the decision as far as the stadium goes. But there are options and that will certainly be explored".
"The commercial use can certainly be reviewed and the Himachal Pradesh government is well within its right to review the commercial use. They can certainly review the lease on rent," he underlined.