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Ahead of Vice Presidential polls, Congress accuses Venkaiah Naidu of corruption

Ahead of Vice Presidential polls, Congress accuses Venkaiah Naidu of corruption

The Congress on Monday accused the NDA vice-presidential candidate M Venkaiah Naidu and his family of corruption.

The former BJP chief dismissed the charges as false and politically motivated.

The main opposition party alleged that the former Union urban development minister and his children took favours from the Telangana and Madhya Pradesh governments to “grab land” and boost trusts and businesses associated with the family.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, making the accusations during a media briefing in the national capital, asked Naidu to come clean since he has been a “great champion of transparency, accountability, integrity and probity” in public life.

“It is evident that these issues have been referred to a few days before the vice-presidential elections, clearly reflecting on the political motive and mischievous intentions,” Naidu said denying the charges.

The 68-year-old leader was declared the ruling BJP-led alliance’s choice for the vice-president’s post a week ago. He then resigned from the party as well as the urban development, and information and broadcasting ministries in the Union government.

Naidu is pitted opposite Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who is the candidate chosen by 18 opposition parties, in the vice-presidential poll scheduled for August 5.

Ramesh came up with four questions to Naidu.

The first question pertained to the Telangana government in June this year exempting the Swarna Bharat Trust, where Naidu’s daughter Deepa Venkat is a managing trustee, from paying various charges amounting to over Rs 2 crore.

The Congress also circulated a copy of a newspaper item that appeared in The Hindu nd stated that the order to exempt the trust from payment was issued by the municipal administration and urban development department a month ago, on June 20, but was not made public on the state government’s website for reasons unknown.

He also posed a query relating to the Telangana government placing a huge order of vehicles with a company owned by Naidu’s son. “Is it not a fact that in July 2014, the Telangana government placed an order amounting to about Rs 271 crore for the purchase of vehicles for the police from two companies – Harsha Toyota owned by Shri Venkaiah Naidu’s son and Himanshu Motors owned by the son of the Telangana chief minister? Is it not a fact that such an order was placed in contravention of all rules and without even floating a tender?” Ramesh asked.

The other two queries were from over a decade ago. One of these pertained to the allotment of land to a trust, of which Naidu was chairman, in 2004. The query of the Congress leader was, “Is it not a fact that on 25.09.2004, Kushabhau Thakre Memorial Trust with Shri Venkaiah Naidu as chairman was allotted 20 acres of land in Shahpura, Bhopal valuing at a few hundred crore rupees, lease deed of which was registered on 06.01.2007?”

Finally, Ramesh also raised the issue of whether or not Naidu was accused in a land grab case. “Is it not a fact that Shri Venkaiah Naidu, the then BJP national president, was accused of grabbing 4.95 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh reserved for the ‘Poor and the Destitute’?

‘Is it not a fact that on August 17, 2002; Shri Venkaiah Naidu was forced to return this 4.95 acres of land after public embarrassment and accusations of ‘wrongdoing’?” he asked, as he also released a number of annexures on these subjects.

Naidu however, responded to Ramesh’s allegations saying that these things have been answered and mentioned earlier.

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