Congress has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "come clean" on the allocation of the land deal near Gir Lion Sanctuary. The party has decided to raise this issue in the budget session of Parliament - scheduled to begin on 23 February.
Congress has latched on to a controversy surrounding Anar Patel, daughter of Gujarat chief Minister Anandiben Patel, to attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party also demand a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe as well as the resignation of the Gujarat CM.
Speaking at an AICC meeting, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma quoted information available in public domain and claimed that in 2010, Gujarat government allotted 250 acres of land next to Gir Lion Sanctuary to Wildwoods Resorts and Realties Pvt Ltd for setting up a resort which was allotted at a price of Rs 15 per square metre or Rs 60,000 per acre. He alleged:
"Total price of the land, thus, came to only Rs 1.5 crore whereas the estimated market price of this land was to the tune of Rs 50 lakh per acre - a total of Rs 125 crore for 250 acres".
"The company then purchased adjoining agricultural land measuring 172 acres taking the total of land owned by it to 422 acres".
Sharma alleged that since non-farmers are not permitted to purchase agricultural land, the company was granted permission to purchase private agricultural land. In March, 2011, the state government permitted conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural as purchased by the company.
The Congress leader also said that one of the partners of the company transferred Wildwoods to another company. He alleged that two promoters of the two companies are said to be business partners of Anar Patel.
Asking Modi to "come clean" on the issue, the party sought to know from him whether he was aware of "clear conflict of interest" of the then Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel while allocating government land near Gir Lion Sanctuary to a company which allegedly has close business links with Anar Patel.
"Was this allocation based on a Cabinet decision and endorsed by (then) Chief Minister (Modi) and whether conflict of interest, if any, was disclosed?" said Sharma.
He said the issue would "definitely" be raised in the budget session of Parliament as it pertained directly to the Prime Minister "who has claimed that he has zero tolerance towards corruption".
Sharma said the truth will emerge only through an independent probe by a Supreme Court-monitored SIT as agencies like CBI and ED cannot be trusted. "We demand that an SIT monitored by the Supreme Court be established for a time-bound probe into the entire matter. For a fair probe, the Gujarat CM must resign," he said.
(With inputs from PTI)