CLUs, CDs haunt Hooda government

    By Jaideep Sarin, IANS,

    Chandigarh : Basking in the glory of a “successful” rally to mark his four years in office, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is eyeing a third five-year term in office. But three things continue to haunt him and his government — CLUs, CDs and party detractors.

    Just a day before his show of strength in Gohana town, the Hooda government had to face embarrassment as the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) released a CD showing Health Minister Narender Singh allegedly trying to settle a deal worth Rs.30-50 crore to get a change of land use (CLU) licence.

    The INLD, which during its rule (1999-2005) faced several allegations of corruption and whose leaders Om Prakash Chautala and Ajay Chautala are now in jail over a teacher recruitment scandal, has been on the offensive vis-a-vis the Hooda government.

    The INLD had earlier released CDs of ruling party legislators and their kin in which they were shown allegedly making deals to procure CLU licences from the Hooda government for a hefty consideration. A probe has been marked into these allegations to the Haryana Lokayukta.

    The Hooda government has courted several controversies over land deals and CLUs — ranging from the ones made by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra to the latest one linked to the health minister.

    Controversial IAS officer Ashok Khemka had put the Hooda government in the dock last year by cancelling a land deal between Vadra’s company and realty giant DLF and ordering a probe into other “shady” land deals by Vadra in Haryana.

    Khemka had alleged that the Hooda government had issued CLUs for over 21,000 acres of land in the state and sought an investigation.

    But Hooda and his government are not taking all this lying down.

    While the health minister dismissed the CD on him as a “political conspiracy”, the Hooda government is all set to charge-sheet Khemka with major penalty — even dismissal from service.

    When Congress’ Gurgaon MP Inderjit Singh, a known Hooda detractor, made allegations on land deals and CLUs, Hooda retorted that Singh had himself obtained CLUs for 83 acres of land from his (Hooda’s) government.

    Hooda defends the grant of wholesale CLUs saying that it reflects the development taking place in Haryana.

    Given Haryana’s strategic location – the state surrounds Delhi from three sides – land has become a priceless commodity, especially in the National Capital Region (NCR).

    The larger point is that scores of people – be it politicians, bureaucrats, land owners, builders or wheeler-dealers – all have become millionaires in the last few years by doing land deals and getting CLUs in Haryana, particularly in the NCR.

    The noises being made seem to be only limited to fixing the opponent for the time being rather than fixing the problem itself.

    (Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at [email protected])