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Congress questions Naidu about alleged irregularities

The Congress on Wednesday sought replies from NDA’s Vice Presidential candidate M. Venkaiah Naidu on the exemption given to his daughter’s NGO from paying various developmental charges amounting to Rs 2.46 crore to Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority.

Other questions pertain to the supply of vehicles by Harsha Toyota (owned by Naidu’s son Harshvardhan Naidu) to the Telangana government without any tender and that the former Union minister had allegedly secured 4.95 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh reserved for the poor and the destitute.

The party, questioning probity in public life as accountability and transparency, asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah to come forward and reply in the context of the “repeated rhetoric of zero tolerance for corruption and wrongdoing”.

“At least 48 hours have passed without any reply from either of them. As always, the Prime Minister and BJP President have chosen to keep mum,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said in a statement.

“Replies given by the BJP’s Vice Presidential nominee as also in his defence by the TRS government of Telangana have left more questions than answers,” he added.

Asking a few questions of Naidu, the Congress said: “The Telangana government and Naidu have admitted that the ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’ of his daughter Deepa Venkat was given exemption from paying developmental charges amounting to Rs 2,46,00,000 to Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority.”

“Naidu has sought to justify this unilateral waiver by saying that 16 more trusts were given exemption,” the party said.

“What the Telangana government and Naidu did not tell, as to why similar exemption was not granted to hundreds of other NGOs by the government? What was the criteria for grant of exemption in payment of government charges of Rs 2.46 crore to her NGO in absence of any policy or rationale?” Surjewala asked in a statement.

“Is it not a fact that the ‘Swarna Bharat Trust’ has been issued a notice under Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. Is it fair to grant exemption in payment of ‘public charges’ to a trust that is facing FCRA proceedings?,” he added.

Surjewala said: “As regards supply of vehicles by Harsha Toyota to Telangana government without any tender, the state government has accepted that 350 Toyota vehicles were purchased directly from Harsha Toyota.”

“Interestingly, as per the 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.”

“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’?” he added.

The party also said: “Naidu has admitted that he was the National BJP President and consequently the chairman of ‘Kushabhau Thakre Memorial Trust’, which was allocated 20 acres of land in Bhopal valued at a few hundred crores.

“Is it not a fact that the Supreme Court quashed the allocation of land,” it asked.

“Naidu has not denied that he had secured 4.95 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh reserved for the poor and 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?” asked Surjewala.

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