No Sonia role in revoking Ramdev's land lease: Virbadhra
Shimla, Feb 28 : Denying any role of Congress president Sonia Gandhi in revoking the land lease of yoga guru Baba Ramdev in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Thursday said it was the state's decision taken after due deliberation.
"The land lease of Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Yogpeeth was revoked as there were violations of statutory provisions," he told reporters here.
He clarified that the state took the decision on its own and Gandhi has nothing to do with the land cancellation.
The yoga guru Wednesday slammed Gandhi for forcing the state government to take over the land allotted to him for setting Patanjali Yogpeeth near Sadhupul in Solan district.
At a public rally in Solan town, Baba Ramdev described the chief minister as a decent man, who had invited him in the past and attended his yoga camp.
In response, Virbhadra Singh said: "I had attended his camp when he was a yoga guru. I wanted to promote yoga as it is an ancient method of curing diseases. He is now a political leader. I have nothing to do with him."
The government Friday took possession of 96.5 bighas of land allotted to Patanjali Yogpeeth by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in 2010. Ramdev's organisation has constructed an ayurveda hospital-cum-yoga "shivir" hall on the land.
Patanjali Yogpeeth has challenged the government action in the Himachal Pradesh High Court, which has directed the government to maintain status quo on the land.
A division bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Kuldip Singh, while listing the matter for next hearing April 24, Wednesday restrained the state from demolishing the construction, which has already been raised, or changing the nature or possession of the land until the case is disposed of.
"The matter is now in the court. The government is on strong footing," Virbhadra Singh added.
The land in dispute originally belonged to the erstwhile royal family of Patiala, to which Congress leader and former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh belongs.
The government said it was donated by Amarinder Singh's family in 1956 for setting up the Indira Holiday Home for Children.
The land, valued around Rs.35-40 crore, was allotted to the yoga guru for a one-time lease payment of Rs.17 lakh for 99 years at a token annual fee of Re.1.
It's located mid-way between Kandaghat town and the hill resort of Chail, 50 km from here.