What the Congress and other opposition parties could not do has been done by a minister in Madhya Pradesh --- to make chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and his RSS mentor Anil Madhav Dave aware of their criminal intent in trying to rob the poor of their land fraudulently.
Minister of food and civil supplies Akhand Pratap Singh has already fallen from grace of the Sangh Parivar, first by ordering raids on PDS shops run by Parivar members or supporters on receiving complaints of malpractices, and then by attending an iftar party at Chhatarpur in defiance of the call of the Parivar-related organisations to stay away from the party. The Parivar rag-tags were not mollified by Singh's explanation that he was also in charge of the minorities' welfare department and thus could not turn down the invitation. (The Congress has, meanwhile, made a complaint to the Lokayukta levelling corruption charges against Singh himself).
Singh vehemently opposed at a cabinet meeting the proposal to allot 13.766 hectares of land in the chief minister's Budhni Assembly constituency by overruling the objections of the revenue and finance departments to Narmada Samagra Trust floated by Anil Madhav Dave. The land near Uma Bharati's favourite Bandrabhan Ashram is the pastureland belonging to the poor people of Ramnagar village on the bank of river Narmada. Under the rules, this land could not be converted into the land for construction of houses. Dave's Trust was to be allotted the land at throwaway prices.
The chief minister's criminal intent became clear in giving the khasra number of some other land in the newspaper advertisements inviting objections. Narmada Samagra Trust is Dave's latest venture. It was registered with the Registrar of Public Trusts only this year, its movable property amounting to only Rs 11,000 and no immovable property. Anil Madhav Dave, as secretary, is the only person authorised in the Trust deed to enter into legal proceedings. The required application fee was not deposited while applying for allotment of land to the Trust.
Dave is a shining star on the corrupt horizon of the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, enjoying more powers and State-sponsored facilities than any cabinet minister without holding any position of responsibility in the government. He, though, has been made a vice-president of the State unit of the BJP. His clout can be gauged from the fact that he was declared defaulter by a nationalised bank for not repaying the loan but he continued to guide the government as if nothing had happened.
The ruckus created by Akhand Pratap Singh divided the cabinet. Ministers like Babulal Gaur (commercial taxes) and Jayant Malaiya (industries and commerce) felt that since the land was in the chief minister's own Assembly constituency, the law and the rules should be adhered to strictly.
However, others like Kailash Vijayvargiya (PWD), Gauri Shankar Shejwar (energy) and Anup Mishra (water resources), who have not lost the hope of one day becoming the chief minister and this, they know, would not be possible without the backing of the RSS, tried to shout down Singh and pleaded for allotment of the land to Dave.
Akhand Pratap Singh walked out of the cabinet meeting.
Chauhan lost nerve, which he usually does when somebody challenges him face to face. He would probably have scrapped the proposal altogether but for the prompting by other ministers who wanted to show their loyalty to the RSS. Still, the cabinet reduced the area of the land from 13.766 hectares to four hectares for allotment to Dave's Trust and decided that the allotment would not be made immediately but this chunk of land would be "reserved" for allotment to the Trust at a later date.
The Assembly elections are due next month and this could be a weapon in the hands of the opposition to hurt the BJP interests. Two days later, Dave wrote to the chief minister asking him not to consider his application for allotment of the land. He was quick to send the copies of his letter to the media for proper publicity. He did not remember the media when he had formed his dubious Narmada Samagra Trust or when he had applied for allotment of land to the Trust, nor had he publicised what exactly the Trust was supposed to achieve.
Akhand Pratap Singh followed up Dave's letter (to the chief minister) with his own missive to the chief secretary urging him to ensure that the cabinet, at its next meeting, decided to cancel the allotment of land to Dave's Trust because the matter would remain pending in favour of Dave till the cabinet reversed the decision.
It is only because of the intervention by one from inside the cabinet that the land allotment to Dave's Trust is likely to be cancelled. Already, the BJP government has made as many as 67 allotments of land at nominal rates to various organisations created, managed or controlled by the persons belonging to the Sangh Parivar. PCC spokesman K.K.Mishra has petitioned the Lokayukta pointing out the violation of rules in making these allotments.