The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sena waves selloff papers

New Delhi, Dec. 5: A claim by BJP ally Sanjay Nirupam that he has documents to back up corruption charges against disinvestment minister Arun Shourie in the Centaur Hotel sale threw the Rajya Sabha into turmoil this morning.

Shiv Sena MP Nirupam also claimed in the House that Shourie’s accusations against him of “misleading” the Rajya Sabha were incorrect.

The deal saw the landmark hotel changing hands from Air-India to Batra Hospitality and then to the Sahara group within a matter of weeks with the Batras earning nearly Rs 40 crore.

The issue had rocked the House when Nirupam alleged that rules of the game had been changed to favour the Batras.

He had claimed that officials dealing with disinvestment were involved in manipulating the deal. Nirupam has also hinted that it might be a case of crony capitalism, claiming that Shourie had studied in school with a director of the Batra group.

“The minister (Shourie) says I am misleading the House. I am, therefore, tabling in the House documents substantiating my charges of corruption in the Centaur hotel selloff, copies of which I have already sent to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” Nirupam said during zero hour.

Shourie should “apologise”. Otherwise, he would be forced to move a privilege notice, Nirupam said after he was allowed by deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah to lay on the table the authenticated documents. The Shiv Sena MP will table the papers after authentication on Monday.

Heptullah, however, warned Nirupam that action would be initiated against him if the documents were found to be incorrect.

The government had yesterday tried to fight off Nirupam’s charges by admitting that the resale of the property by the Batras to Sahara had violated the sale contract and needed to be investigated by the law ministry.

Nirupam, who had demanded a CBI probe into the deal, had yesterday pointed out that the sale of 100 per cent shares in the company, Batra Hospitality, which had bought the hotel from the government, to the Sahara group was tantamount to a change in ownership which violated clause 13.4 of the sale agreement.

The Batras had bought the hotel for Rs 83 crore last month and resold it for Rs 122 crore to the Sahara group.

Nirupam’s party, the Shiva Sena, is said to be upset with Shourie, who it suspects of leaking news that the party’s MPs were seeking crucial information on divestment.

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