On July 24, Congress raised issues of ‘Probity in Public Life’ as also ‘Accountability & Transparency’ asking PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah to come forward and reply in the context of repeated rhetoric of ‘Zero Tolerance for Corruption & Wrongdoing’.
New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday upped the ante against NDA’s Vice Presidential nominee Venkaiah Naidu, alleging that he had been involved in some questionable deals possibly amounting to corruption. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala on Wednesday gave a detailed list of allegations against the veteran BJP leader and posed four questions on behalf of the Congress.
“On 24th July, 2017; Congress Party raised important issues of ‘Probity in Public Life’ as also ‘Accountability & Transparency’ asking the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi as also BJP President, Shri Amit Shah to come forward and reply in the context of repeated rhetoric of ‘Zero Tolerance for Corruption & Wrongdoing’. 48 hours have passed without a reply from either of them. As always, Prime Minister and BJP President have chosen to keep mum,” a Congress statement on Wednesday read.
Special favour to Naidu’s daughter’s NGO?
The Congress alleged that Venkaiah Naidu’s daughter Deepa Venkat, who runs an NGO, received a special favour from the Telangana government. The NGO ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’, Congress alleged, was given an exemption from paying development charges to the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA).
“Telangana government and Shri Venkaiah Naidu have admitted that ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’ of Ms Deepa Venkat (Shri Naidu’s daughter) was given exemption from paying various developmental charges amounting to Rs.2,46,00,000 (Rs. 2.46 Crore) to Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority. Shri Naidu has sought to justify this unilateral waiver by saying that 16 more trusts were given exemption,” Surjewala said.
The Congress further asked, “What the Telangana government and Shri Naidu did not tell, as to why similar exemption was not granted to hundreds of other NGOs by the government? What were the criteria for grant of exemption in payment of government charges of Rs.2.46 crore to ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’ in absence of any policy or rationale?”
According to the Congress, ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’ was also served a notice under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA). “Is it also not a fact that ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’ has been issued a notice under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. A copy of the notice dated 8th July, 2017 is attached as Annexure A-1 where name of ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’ appears as Sr.No. 5892. Is it fair to grant exemption in payment of ‘public charges’ to a trust that is facing FCRA proceedings?”
Naidu’s son’s car dealership under the scanner
The Grand Old Party raised a red flag over a recent order placed by Telangana government from ‘Harsha Toyota’, a car dealership owned by Naidu’s son Harshvardhan Naidu. The allegation is that the order was placed from this dealership despite another dealer being the successful tender. “As qua supply of vehicles by ‘Harsha Toyota’ (owned by son of Shri Naidu) to Telangana government without any tender, Telangana government has accepted that 350 Toyota vehicles were purchased directly from ‘Harsha Toyota’. Interestingly, as per government, the 350 vehicles purchased from ‘Harsha Toyota’ were supposedly purchased under DGS&D rates, while the next lot of 350 vehicles were purchased through tender in which another dealer i.e. ‘Radha Krishna Motors’ became a successful tenderer,” it said.
Congress then posed the question, “Why were both the lots of vehicles not purchased through tender in the first instance? Was the conditionality of tender violated in the purchase of first lot of vehicles from ‘Harsha Toyota’? What is the price at which the two lots of vehicles i.e. the first lot supplied by ‘Harsha Toyota’ and second lot supplied by ‘Radha Krishna Motors’ were purchased? Was the price of vehicles purchased from ‘Harsha Toyota’ higher than the vehicles purchased through tender from ‘Radha Krishna Motors’?”
Naidu’s own trust under suspicion
Venkaiah Naidu himself, the Congress indicated, may not be in the clear. The party alleged that the ‘Kushabhau Thakre Trust’, of which Naidu was Chairman in 2004, received 20 acres of prime land in Bhopal at throwaway prices. In this case, the Congress asked, “In case, Shri Venkaiah Naidu is dismissing these strictures by blaming the BJP for securing illegal allocation of land and attempting to distance himself on account of his official capacity as BJP National President, will the BJP come forward to answer the question?”
Questionable land deal in Andhra Pradesh
According to the Congress, the BJP’s VP candidate acquired land meant for the “poor and destitute” in Andhra Pradesh. “Shri Venkaiah Naidu has not denied that he had secured 4.95 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh reserved for the ‘Poor & the Destitute’. Is it not a fact that he was forced to return the land as the same was illegally allocated to him? Does it absolve him of his culpability?” Congress asked Naidu.