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November 19, 2002 | 1853 IST
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Sena demands CBI probe in Centaur Hotel sale

Launching a fresh attack on the government's divestment policy, Shiv Sena alleged on Tuesday that there were 'underhand' dealings in the sale of Centaur Airport Hotel in Mumbai and demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

"There are many complaints about the valuation in public sector units for divestment. I have picked up this particular case as I feel there is some underhand dealing in the sale of the hotel property. To favour a particular party, there was a deliberate under-valuation," Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam told PTI.

"I have already written to the prime minister about this and demanded a CBI probe," he said.

Simultaneously, Nirupam also demanded cancellation of the resale of the hotel for Rs 115 crore (Rs 1.15 billion) by Batra Hospitalities after acquiring it from the government for just Rs 83 crore (Rs 830 million).

Asked if he was reacting to the charges leveled by Divestment Minister Arun Shourie that Shiv Sena had repeatedly approached him for favouring Ajit Kerkar, who bought Juhu Centaur, Nirupam said "no, this is not a retaliation. We genuinely feel that there are deficiencies in the valuation process and that is why I have picked up this hotel deal."

"I feel that the reserve price of Centaur Airport was at least Rs 100 crore (Rs 1 billion). But it was kept at just Rs 75 crore (Rs 750 million)," he said adding that he had all the documents relating to the deal and accordingly he had written to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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