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The Rediff Special/ Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
Mulayam Singh's bitter PIL
March 07, 2007
Today, Sheela Bhatt reveals what an embattled Yadav has said in his defence before the Supreme Court.
Part One: Will this man bring down Mulayam?
In recent years, Vishwanath Chaturvedi has filed more than six petitions against various 'corruption scams' in the Uttar Pradesh government.
One such case was against the Lucknow Development Authority for cancelling 28 prime plots allotted to politicians and bureaucrats, allegedly close to Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, at prices much below the market rate.
That case is being heard in the Supreme Court.
Chaturvedi's big success came on February 27, 2007, when, in a written submission before the Supreme Court, Yadav responded to the allegations.
The reply is an eye-opener.
Yadav said in 1977 he had three bighas of agricultural land, a house in Safai, his native town, and a residential plot in Etawah. These three properties were worth Rs 79,000.
After 27 years, in 2004, Yadav accepted before the Election Commission that he owned 14 acres of land in Safai, a plot in Friends Colony in Etawah, fixed deposits in banks worth Rs 25 lakhs (Rs 2.5 million), and shares in 'other properties' worth Rs 20 lakhs (Rs 2 million).
Chaturvedi's petition has a long list of properties. Yadav has given an explanation for each and every allegation concerning these properties which will now come under the CBI's scrutiny.
Some of Yadav's responses to the allegations in the PIL are interesting.
In his written submission Yadav says that four plots in Gomti Nagar in Etawah measuring 450 square metres, 4450 sq mt, 300 sq mt and 450 sq mt, belong to Pesu Bhojwani, Jitendra Bhojwani, Rajesh Bhojwani and Kamal Bhojwani respectively. All the four are residents of Etawah with income assessed by the income-tax department, and these are not his properties nor are the Bhjowanis related to him, he has said.
Chaturvedi alleges that the Bhojwanis are Yadav's business partners. Yadav has denied the allegation.
Another prime plot in Lucknow measuring 10,000 sq feet also does not belong to Yadav, but is owned by his late nephew, Ranveer Yadav, his brother Ratan Singh's son. The market value of the plot is Rs 55 lakhs (Rs 5.5 million), says the chief minister.
The most sensational allegation made by Chaturvedi concerns the Chaudhary Charan Singh Post Graduate College in Etawah worth Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion), managed by the Siksha Prasar Samiti. Chaturvedi has claimed that Mulayam Singh's son Akhilesh Singh Yadav is a member and the chief minister's brother Shivpal Yadav is a president of the Samiti.
Chaturvedi also claimed that Shivpal Yadav had admitted in the UP assembly that he was the president of the Samiti.
In his affidavit Yadav has accepted that, 'It is registered in the name of Siksha Prasar Samiti and is getting grants and aid from government since 1994.' Yadav also agreed that the UP government granted Rs 103.44 crore (Rs 1.033 billion) for its construction.
But Yadav claims that neither he nor his family is a member of the society.
He has accepted that he owns a bungalow in Civil Lines, Etawah, measuring 25,000 square feet for which he paid Rs 10,80,000 and spent Rs 22 lakhs (Rs 2.2 million) on its renovation.
Chaturvedi has claimed before the court that this bungalow is worth Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million).
The chief minister's list accepts that Dimple Yadav, his daughter-in-law, owns land in Lucknow's prime area for which she and her husband paid Rs 83 lakhs (Rs 8.3 million).
Yadav has admitted that Dimple owns a house in the same area which was purchased for Rs 7 lakhs (Rs 700,000).
Another revelation on record concerns one of the most costly plots in Uttar Pradesh which is rented out by Yadav's family to the ABN Amro Bank.
Yadav says in his submission that the said property was purchased in parts by his late wife Malti Devi in 1999 for Rs 15 lakhs (Rs 1.5 million), by his son Akhilesh for Rs 10 lakhs (Rs 1 million) and by Dimple Yadav in June 2004 for Rs 7.75 lakhs (Rs 775,000). After Malti Devi's death her share was transferred to Akhilesh and the entire property was rented out to the ABN Amro Bank.
Pratik Yadav, Akhilesh's step-brother, also owns a property near Lucknow in Kamta village. Yadav has accepted that the property was purchased by his second wife Sadhana for Pratik. The plot was purchased from Mulayam's late nephew Ranveer Singh and Rajesh Bhojwani. The property is worth Rs 2.5 crores (Rs 25 million) and the agreement to sell the land was entered into with Liza Builders who paid Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) as an advance to Sadhana.
From this money Sadhana bought a home on Vikramditya Marg in Lucknow for Rs 1.72 crore (Rs 17.2 million).
Yadav has denied many other allegations levelled by Chaturvedi.
He told the Supreme Court that Chaturvedi's case against him should be dismissed, as it did with Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav in the disproportionate assets case.
But the Supreme Court turned down his plea.
The judges said, 'The said decision, in our opinion, has no application to the facts of this case.'
'The records placed before us and the allegations made by the petitioner (Chaturvedi) encountered by the respective respondents (Yadavs) are related to the properties purchased by the contesting respondents and that the properties acquired are disproportionate to their known source of income,' Justice Lakshmanan, writing for the bench, said.
The judge said an inquiry cannot be shut out in this case merely because the petitioner was a political opponent.
'An inquiry should not be shut out at the threshold because a political opponent of a person with political difference raises an allegation of commission of offence,' the bench said while allowing the admissibility of the PIL against the Samajwadi Party chief.
In Lalu Yadav's case, the Supreme Court judges had observed that 'we say the petitioners are waging a political battle against Prasad and Rabri through the medium of PIL.'
'The venue for the political battle, in our opinion, can never be this court,' Justice Lakshmanan said.
Meanwhile, the CBI has initiated a preliminary inquiry against Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The chief minister has kept mum since the judges ordered a CBI inquiry, but Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh told the media, 'We have nothing to hide. These are all disclosed assets and were disclosed when he (Mulayam Singh) filed his election papers.'
Yadav, who was a wrestler before he entered politics, is not going to be down for long. Already he is camping against the Congress in New Delhi and has met the President and the Lok Sabha Speaker to make his stand known.
His party, with 42 Lok Sabha MPs and 16 Rajya Sabha MPs, will play a vital role in the election of the next President in league with his Left allies, and has the potential to embarrass the Congress by ensuring its candidate lacks crucial numbers.
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