CHANDIGARH: Eleven Haryana Congress MLAs today came out in the defence of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda who was quizzed by the CBI in a case of irregularities in land deals in Manesar, saying he had not done anything wrong.
They accused the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state of "misusing" such agencies and unleashing a "witch-hunt and indulging in political vendetta".
The MLAs also levelled allegations against Haryana's Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan, who trashed the charges.
"Hooda has not committed any crime. He is clean. He has said that he is not scared of facing any inquiry provided the government does not act out of vindictiveness," senior Congress leader and party MLA Raghubir Singh Kadian told reporters here.
While Hooda was not present, most of his loyalist MLAs, including former speaker Kuldeep Sharma, Geeta Bhukkal and Anand Singh Dangi, came out in his strong support.
At the press conference, both Kadian and Sharma alleged that the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state had unleashed political vendetta against Hooda and other opponents and were using various agencies as their "political extension" and "misusing" them.
Kadian claimed that the BJP government was perturbed by Hooda's growing popularity and rising political graph and was, therefore, targeting him.
On the Manesar case, Kadian alleged that private persons were registering complaints "and at whose behest they are doing so, everyone knows this".
"It is not prosecution, but naked persecution, which will boomerang on them. They are doing this to divert public attention from their own failures. The BJP government is power drunk and they think they are here to rule forever," he claimed.
The CBI had questioned Hooda at its office here for nearly nine hours on May 15 in connection with the Manesar land deal case in which the land-owning farmers allegedly suffered a loss of about Rs 1,500 crore.
The agency had registered the case in September 2015 on allegations that private builders in conspiracy with unknown public servants of the Haryana government had purchased around 400 acres of land from farmers and land owners of village Manesar, Naurangpur and Gurgaon at throwaway prices.
Sharma alleged that the BJP wanted to fix its political opponents, which was why a conspiracy was hatched to target Hooda.
"Om Prakash Yadav, a resident of Manesar village, had filed a civil writ petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2011 for getting an inquiry done through CBI into the case.
"On December 15, 2014, the high court dismissed the writ petition by observing conduct of Prakash as mala fide and influenced by sheer greed...," Kadian said.
He said the then Gurgaon police commissioner, Navdeep Singh Virk, registered a criminal case after a complaint was given by Prakash on August 12, 2015.
"After registration of FIR on August 12, 2015, on the same night, Virk referred a letter to the then DGP, Haryana, wherein he made recommendation for a CBI probe into the matter. The advocate general gave legal opinion in the same matter a day prior when the FIR was registered, raising eyebrows," he alleged.
However, Haryana's Advocate General Baldev Raj Mahajan trashed the allegations levelled by the Congress legislators.
He clarified that he had not given any legal opinion on the FIR registered on Om Prakash's complaint.
"My legal opinion was not connected with Om Prakash's complaint or case registered by the Gurgaon police on his complaint. My opinion has no reference to that case," Mahajan told reporters when asked to respond to the Congress legislators' charge.
"My opinion is regarding pending appeal in the Supreme Court in the case. What happened during hearing in the case, my opinion is in reference to that. I gave my opinion and it pertains to this. We (AG and state's legal team) told the state government that these are the facts of the case and these things have come to fore during hearing.
"We gave our legal advice to the government accordingly so that it properly investigates the Manesar land deal case.
There is no reference to Om Prakash's complaint and no reference to the FIR," Mahajan said.
He said that the high court had rejected the writ plea in the case, the land owners went in appeal against the HC verdict to the Apex Court, which is pending.
With the MLAs loyal to Hooda coming out in his defence, Mahajan said, "The former CM is feeling that he cannot save himself, therefore, he is asking his supporters to defend him in the case by going to the media."
"The supporters (of Hooda) who held press conference concealed the fact that AG's opinion was about pending case in the Supreme Court. They twisted the facts," he said.
Further training guns on Hooda, Mahajan, without naming him, said, "He is feeling that not just in the Manesar case, but politically too he may suffer damage which is why is making efforts to save himself."