New Delhi: The Congress on Wednesday rejected as "half truths and lies" allegations by union minister Smriti Irani about 65 acres of land having been taken away from Amethi residents during the 1980s for a cycle factory and transferred to the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust. The party sought apology from the BJP.
In a statement, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said canards, half-truths and lies can never substitute true facts.
"We demand an unconditional apology from the BJP for falsifying and projecting innuendos and untruths with a view to misstate and malign," he said.
Amethi is the Lok Sabha constituency of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Surjewala said a plot of land measuring 65.57 acres was allotted to Samrat Bicycles Limited by the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) in August 1986 on a 90-year lease.
He said Samrat Bicycles defaulted and went into liquidation and the land along with physical assets of the company were auctioned by the Delhi High Court at the instance of the Industrial Finance Corporation of India Ltd. (IFCI).
"The Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) participated in the auction and was declared a successful bidder on March 10, 2011 by the Delhi High court," Surjewala said.
He said the RGCT took possession of the land and assets in August 2011 but the high court proceeded to approve the transfer deed in favour of the RGCT only in 2015.
Subsequently, the land was registered in the name of the RGCT at the office of the sub registrar in Gauriganj in Amethi district in February 2015.
He said that since the legal transfer took place only in February, the property was in a state of disuse and the RGCT will undertake activity in due course of time.
"The RGCT is only entitled to retain the property for the remaining period of 55 years and has effectively stepped into the shoes of the company in terms of the auction conducted by the Delhi High Court," he said.
Surjewala said that in the khatoni (record of cultivation in the revenue records) 49.5 acres out of the 65.57 acres was entered in favour of Samrat Bicycles as the owner prior to 1985 "instead of a lessee of UPSIDC for 90 years".
He said the Gauriganj sub-divisional magistrate in his order of August 26, 2015 ordered correction of revenue record in favour of UPSIDC, upheld the right of lease of 90 years in favour of IFCI and also execution of lease deed in favour of the RGCT.
"Correction of revenue record by SDM upholds the right of the RGCT as a lessee of the land for remaining period of the 90 years lease," the statement said.
Surjewala said the RGCT shall put the land to use only in accordance with the UP State Industrial Development Authority Act (UPSIDA) and with necessary approval from UPSIDC.
He listed a large number of welfare activities done by the RGCT in Uttar Pradesh including women's development programmes covering over 14.5 lakh rural women across 42 districts.
He alleged that the "BJP's propaganda machine" manufactures one false allegation a day against the opposition, particularly Rahul Gandhi to divert the attention of people from "misgovernance" of the Narendra Modi government.
Irani had alleged on Sunday that 65 acres of land was taken away from Amethi residents for a cycle factory and was later transferred to the RGCT. She said the land should go back to the UPSIDC as the cycle factory had not been set up.