New Delhi, Feb 7 (IANS) Neeraj Shekhar, son of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, has said that the Bharat Yatra Trust set up by his father would never lease out its properties to private groups.
Neeraj Shekhar told IANS that there was no attempt to encash on the appreciating real estate value of the hundreds of acres of trust land in many states.
Reacting to a report that BYT trustees were at loggerhead over the alleged move by some of them to lease out trust land to private interests, he said: “There is no question of giving out these lands to private interests in any way.”
He said the land could only be used to establish educational or technical institutions or hospitals including medical colleges.
The trust owns hundreds of acres of land at prime locations in 13 centres, including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
Speaking over phone from Balia in Uttar Pradesh, Neeraj Shekhar said the trust was set up by his father after he undertook a “Bharat Yatra” from Kanyakumari to Rajghat in New Delhi covering 4,260 km in 1983.
After the 170-day march, Chandra Shekhar — who eventually became prime minister in 1990-91 — set up the centre to train political workers rooted in socialist ideology.
The controversy over alleged bid to misuse the trust land started when socialist leader Mohan Dharia allegedly wrote to the trustees.
He alleged that his signatures had been forged on the minutes providing for the leasing of the trust land to private groups.
Neeraj Shekhar insisted that “such an idea has not even crossed our minds (trustees)”.
“This is against the socialist thinking of my father. I will never let such a thing to happen to something that is associated with the name of my father,” he said.
But, he said, there was no bar on using the land for public welfare. Anything that is “public oriented can come up on these trust lands but it has got be in the name of (my father)”.
Neeraj Shekhar said: “We met Dhariaji, and I intend to meet him again with other members of the trust to remove misgivings.”
He said the problem was in respect of properties in Pune and Gurgaon in Haryana (Bhondsi village) because of the prime location of these lands.
He said the trust was approached by a former Communist Party of India MP who desired to set up an inter-college if he got the trust land.