Wednesday, Dec 04, 2002
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By Our Special Correspondent
The Sena MP's persistent queries had the Treasury benches squirming in embarrassment. He demanded details of how Batra, the person who had originally bought the hotel, was allowed to sell it to Sahara.
The Government's discomfiture was seized upon by the Opposition as Priyaranjan Dasmunshi (Congress) and Hanan Mollah (CPI-M) sought to pin down the Minister on the details of the sale. Mr. Shourie said that initially Mr. Batra had quoted a price which was less than what the Government was prepared to accept, but revised it later. "The offer was raised to Rs. 85 crores which the Government accepted."
The Minister's attempts to explain the sale failed to satisfy the Opposition and the Sena MPs. Mr. Dasmunshi said that something was amiss in the manner in which Mr. Batra was allowed to revise his bid, and later sell the property to Sahara. Mr. Khaire demanded that a law be enacted prohibiting the sale of Government property for 10 years by those who buy it.
Mr. Shourie said that he had received phone calls from several MPs recommending the sale. However he refused to reveal their names.
The Speaker, Manohar Joshi, appealed to the members to give the Minister a patient hearing. The Minister's reply, however, remained incomplete as the House had to take up the zero hour business.
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