New Delhi, July 24 The Congress on Monday attacked NDA’s Vice Presidential candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu over issues of transparency and probity, alleging that the Telangana government had placed a direct order for purchase of vehicles with a company belonging to his son and had granted exemption from Rs 2-crore charges to a trust in which his daughter was a managing trustee.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posed four questions to Naidu and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying it is mandatory for them to answer the queries as they have spoken of transparency, accountability and honesty.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often stated that there was zero tolerance for corruption and wrongdoing.
Ramesh said the Telangana government had issued an order in June this year which “exempted the Swarna Bharat Trust of Naidu’s daughter from paying various charges amounting to more than Rs 2 crore to the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority”.
“Is it not a fact that such an exemption has no precedent and it has been done because his daughter is the managing trustee of the organisation,” Ramesh asked.
Earlier in July 2014, the Telangana government had placed an order worth about Rs 271 crore for the purchase of police vehicles from two companies — Harsha Toyota owned by Naidu’s son and Himanshu Motors owned by the son of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao.
“Is it not a fact that such an order was placed in contravention of all rules and without even floating a tender?” Ramesh asked.
He said that Kushabhau Thakre Memorial Trust with Naidu as its Chairman was allotted 20 acres of land in Shahpura, Bhopal, valued at a few hundred crore rupees in September 2004 and the lease deed was registered in January 2007.
“Is it not a fact that this land was allotted by BJP government of Madhya Pradesh for a pittance of one-time premium of Rs 25 lakh and a yearly rent of one rupee? Is it not a fact that even the ‘land use’ was changed from ‘residential and forestry’ to ‘commercial’ as an act of favouritism by BJP government?” Ramesh asked.
The Congress leader alleged that all this was done without inviting an application in public domain in a “completely arbitrary and whimsical fashion”.
“Is it not a fact that Supreme Court of India quashed this allotment on April 6, 2011, in a PIL and passed stringent strictures of ‘political favourtism’ and cancelled the allotment of land?” he asked.
Ramesh alleged that Naidu was accused of grabbing 4.95 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh reserved for the poor and the destitute.
“Is it not a fact that on August 17, 2002, Naidu was forced to return this 4.95 acres of land after public embarrassment and accusations of wrongdoing?” he asked.