HP oppn accuses govt of favouring Baba firm

HP oppn accuses govt of favouring Baba firm

Shimla/Dharamshala: Opposition Congress on Monday stepped-up its offensive against the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh levelling charges of undue favours to yoga Guru Baba Ramdev, whose Patanjali Yogapeeth was given prime land on a hugely concessional rate at Solan district recently.

The leader of opposition Mukesh Agnihotri led the Congress MLAs to stage a walkout from the state Vidhan Sabha, which began its six-day long winter session at Dharamshala setting the tone for the Congress mood against the BJP government, which is set to complete its one year in power on December 27. Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for participating in a mega show of strength at Dharamshala on one-year completion of the government.

On Monday before Vidhan Sabha takes-up its scheduled business, Agnihotri raised the issue of land leased out to Yoga Guru. He said, "The government has violated lease norms and handed over prime land worth several crores for mere Rs 2.39 crore to Baba. This is a serious matter.

Now, when the Congress has decided to prepare a charge sheet against the government, Chief Minister has gone threatening the Congress. "Is this the way, the government has chosen to function?" he asked.

Responding to the opposition charges later, the Chief Minister defended the government decision to restore 28 acres of land to Baba Ramdev's trust to set-up an Ayurveda medical research centre and herbal medicine form creating job opportunities for youths in the state -- a project approved in 2011-2012 by earlier BJP government.

He reminded that land was initially given to the Trust during the BJP regime but cancelled by the Congress government. But later the Congress government changed its mind in 2017 and offered to restore the land provided the Trust withdraws its petition from the High Court. The petition was withdrawn.

"We have not gone beyond what the Congress had decided. No favour in charging the lease money has been given. How about the Congress government decision to give land to Babu Asharam in Sirmaur district?" Thakur questioned in the House.

He also refuted the charge of issuing threats to the Congress saying, "it's not my nature."

"Threats? No, not to me," Virbhadra said.

In reply to a question of media at Dharamshala, former Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 84, said "I am not aware of any threats being issues to the Congress leaders by Chief Minister. At least, he (CM) has not done this to me".

Ashwani Sharma

Ashwani Sharma

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