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Smriti Irani hurls land grab charge against Congress In Amethi

A week after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi held chaupals with farmers in his Lok Sabha constituency and attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani accused the Congress of cornering land acquired from farmers for setting up a bicycle factory in Amethi.

Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani during a press conference in New Delhi on Sept 11, 2014. (Photo: IANS)

Addressing a public gathering in Amethi Assembly segment, Irani said that the government had given nearly 65 acres, which was acquired from farmers, to Samrat Bicycle for setting up its manufacturing unit. “But I ask you, has that factory been established so far? Has any person got employment there. Do you know what happened with that land. Advocate Uma Shankar told me that Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust has purchased that land on February 24 this year and that land is now with the Congress people,” alleged Irani.

Accusing Rahul of only delivering speeches and doing nothing to empower the poor, Irani asked BJP workers to tell people of Amethi about the Samrat Bicycle issue. When asked by Irani to explain the matter to the crowd, advocate Uma Shankar Pandey claimed that the UP State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) had challenged the sale of the said land in the SDM’s court. He said that the land in question was in Amethi’s Gauriganj Assembly segment.

“UPSIDC had given 65 acres of industrial land to Samrat Bicycles Limited on lease of 90 years for setting up its manufacturing unit. The company constructed few buildings and installed some machines too but stopped work after two years. The company owner, who is close to Gandhi family, sold that land to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust at cost of Rs 20.10 crore through auction in February this year,” Pandey said, adding that the UPSIDC had acquired land in Gauriganj Assembly segment in 1982-83 for facilitating establishment of industrial units.

He added that the auction was illegal as Samrat Bicycles Limited was supposed to transfer the land back to the UPSIDC in case it was not used. “But it sold the land to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust, which is run by Gandhi family. The UPSIDC has filed a case in this regard in local SDM court of Amethi recently,” said Pandey.

Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had laid the foundation of Samrat Bicycle Limited on the land in question on May 24, 1984. When asked About Rahul’s comment that Narendra Modi government was “destroying creativity” by imposing a “RSS and BJP model of eduction”, Irani said that the Amethi MP’s remarks were baseless.

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