Opposition brings up regularisation of Nagpur land when Shinde was minister for MVA; Shinde hits back saying he stayed order later
Eknath Shinde. File pic
Opposition parties including the Thackeray Sena have slapped accusation of corruption against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over regularising a piece of land in Nagpur for a fee of Rs 2 crore even as it was priced at Rs 83-R100 crore as per the ready reckoner rate. They demanded Shinde’s resignation. Calling the allegations baseless, the CM hit back at Uddhav Thackeray saying that the former CM had given undue benefit to some builders in Mumbai.
In the upper house, opposition leader Ambadas Danve raised the matter, alleging that the high court had passed strictures against Shinde when he was the urban development minister in the previous government.
Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis responded to the allegations saying that the charges were false and the regularisation was done as per the government rules of 2009. Later, NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal took up the issue in the lower house following which Fadnavis defended Shinde.
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As the Opposition demanded to know it from the horse’s mouth, Shinde said that before he decided the plaintiff’s [a builder as per the allegations] appeal, he was not informed about the pending court cases and other matters related to the layouts that the Nagpur Improvement Trust had regularised before. “I’m not like the people who gave a benefit of over Rs 300 crore to a builder who is demanding R1,000 more for his land [in Mumbai],” he said.
He added, “My verdict was as per the 2009 decision that had instructions to charge the regularisation charges. I merely asked the NIT to follow the government’s previous decision under which 34 other layouts were regularised in a similar fashion.” He further added that he stayed his decision after the facts of the court cases were brought to his notice. He said some 3,000 people have been staying on the said land since 2001.
According to Shinde, the court had asked the government to file its response. “There was no interim stay when I decided the appeal of the land owners,” he said, showing the recommendation letters from MVA legislators and ministers.
The Opposition walked out in protest when they were not permitted to speak further on the issue. Tempers ran high when the Thackeray Sena and ruling MLAs exchanged heated words. BJP’s Ashish Shelar took objection to Aaditya Thackeray’s remarks. Senior leaders including Fadnavis walked up to the members to pacify them before the arguments could escalate.
‘Why stay decision if legal?’
Former CM Uddhav Thackeray, who is in Nagpur for the session, asked why Shinde stayed his own decision if it was legal. “He should say it. Political interference is inappropriate. He should not stay in office,” he said.
He added that the NIT had refused to regularise the land at a rate less than ready reckoner. “Our query remained unanswered, though the CM has told a story in the house.”
The former CM said that though the MVA government was in power when Shinde stayed his decision in the NIT land, the fact remained that he [Shinde] was the minister in-charge then and continues to be the head of the department even now. “Some people went to jail. Should we also send the CM to jail?” he said, adding that the attention should not be diverted in the name of a sub-judice case. He promised to pursue the allegations further in the legislature.
Thackeray also wondered whether the court’s directives and the government’s decision of bringing the CM and the Cabinet under the ambit of Lokayukta was a mere coincidence. “Is it that the state BJP president Chandrashekhar Bawankule’s wish [that Fadnavis be made the CM in his presidency] will be fulfilled soon?” he said.
Mikes go mute
The Assembly was stalled for around one hour on Tuesday, not due to forced adjournment but because of a technical snag which silenced the in-house sound system. The mikes went off while Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis was speaking. The speaker stopped work for 10 minutes twice, and later took off for 30 minutes. Normalcy was restored in the third adjournment. Opposition leader Ajit Pawar vented his anger saying, “This is shameful.”