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Since 1st March, 1999
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Congress lands last-lap punch

New Delhi, April 29: The Congress today accused Mulayam Singh Yadav of misusing his discretionary powers to allot land in Noida to judges, bureaucrats, police officers, Samajwadi Party leaders — and even his own in-laws.

As the Uttar Pradesh election entered its final rounds, Kapil Sibal, head of the Congress’s poll campaign cell, threw a punch at the chief minister, mentioning a long list of alleged beneficiaries.

The list includes Nitin Kumar, a relative of Mulayam’s second wife Sadhna. Two others are Gyanendra Yadav and Divya, son and granddaughter of the chief minister’s private secretary, S.R. Yadav.

Land prices in Noida have shot up in the past five years because of the land crunch in Delhi and the buzz that Noida was out to give Gurgaon stiff competition as the first choice of developers and builders.

The alleged beneficiaries named by Sibal include Aarohi Bhalla, son of Justice Jagdish Bhalla, whose appointment as Kerala chief justice was recently questioned by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

The President had cited the dissenting note written by one of the three judges in the collegium that recommended the appointment. Justice Bhalla was later cleared for the post of Chhattisgarh chief justice.

Sibal also named Sheeba Sabharwal, daughter-in-law of former Chief Justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal.

The judge told a TV channel that the allegation was false and that it was unfortunate that people “could stoop so low”.

He said seven members of his family had applied for a plot in 2005, and only one got lucky in the draw of lots.

“To assume that because one was successful this was favouritism is wholly unfortunate,” he said.

Allahabad High Court had quashed all the allotments as arbitrary in response to two petitions and asked the CBI to probe them. The Supreme Court stayed the order for a CBI inquiry and admitted the state’s petition against the cancellation of the allotments. Hearing is still on.

Sibal alleged the beneficiaries were “handpicked with no public purpose in mind” and the allotments smacked of corruption. He alleged that several “benami” transactions had taken place, too.

Among the others Sibal mentioned are Poonam Srivastava, daughter of Allahabad High Court judge Subodh Kumar Srivastava; Rashid Masood and Shashi Prasad Yadav, children of Samajwadi MPs Qazi Masood Ahmed and Chandra Pal Yadav; and Mehmood Ahmed, son of Uttar Pradesh minister Mansoor Ahmed.

The list also features Neena Kapoor, a relative of Pradeep Kapoor, Amar Singh’s private secretary.

The Samajwadi Party’s Rajya Sabha MP, Shahid Siddiqui, said: “How can the party react to the charges' It’s the government that made the allotments and not the party.”

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