Himachal 'land-grabber' is Congress new Punjab in-charge
CHANDIGARH: The Congress has appointed former Himachal Pradesh education minister Asha Kumari in charge of its Punjab affairs, in place of Kamal Nath, whose appointment had triggered a row over his alleged role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Though her appointment is seen as an attempt to end the row over Nath’s posting, the AICC general secretary and MLA from Dalhousie has had her share of controversy.
In February, a local court in the hill state sentenced Kumari to one-year jail in a land-grab case and fined her `8,000, but she was granted bail.
She was accused of manipulating revenue records, fabricating wills and transferring 60 bighas of forest land to her husband, the late Brijender Singh, who belonged to the erstwhile royal family of Chamba. Kumari was born in Madhya Pradesh.
Questioning her appointment, AAP Punjab in-charge Sanjay Singh said, “It appears as if the Congress has completely gone bankrupt of choices while finding one clean person with an unblemished record to lead the party in Punjab. The party seem to have no option but to bank on tainted or corrupt leaders.” In 1998, former Dalhousie municipal councilor Kuldeep Singh filed a complaint against Kumari and others. And the vigilance bureau registered a case for cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy and corruption against her and other accused in 2001.
On January 4, 2005 she resigned as education minister after being charged in the case. Though Kumari was granted relief by the Himachal Pradesh High Court, the Supreme Court on December 2, 2011 upheld all the charges against her and transferred the case to the Kangra court from Chamba. The trial court again framed charges against her and others on August 14, 2012.
Nath had to relinquish the post on June 15 after the AAP, SAD and the BJP attacked the Congress over his appointment as the AICC secretary in charge of its Punjab afffairs. Both the Congress and the MP from Chindwara have, however, refuted the allegations.