Himachal cricket body needs to be reconstituted: Virbhadra

Shimla, April 11: Justifying the proceedings initiated against his predecessor Prem Kumar Dhumal for alleged wrongdoing in allotment of land during his regime to the state cricket body, Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Friday called for a “newly democratically elected” cricket body.

“The HPCA (Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association) and its office-bearers are agents of the BJP and there interference in state politics reflects that the HPCA was not safe in their hands,” the chief minister said in a statement here.

“A newly democratically elected body needs to be constituted,” he said.

The chief minister’s reaction came a day after Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anurag Thakur-led HPCA wrote to President Pranab Mukherjee against Governor Urmila Singh’s move to sanction initiation of proceedings against Dhumal.

HPCA spokesperson Sanjay Sharma released the letter to the media in Dharamsala, saying the governor had shown haste in granting sanction to prosecute Dhumal and this showed non-application of mind on her part.

The chief minister rubbished the allegation.

“Why granting of the prosecution sanction by the governor is pinching the officials of HPCA,” he asked, adding this meant that they (the HPCA) were more interested in the Dhumals rather than in cricket

Anurag Thakur and his father Dhumal were playing shabby and dirty politics in the garb of the HPCA, he said.

Meanwhile, HPCA spokesperson Sharma denied the allegation of acquiring excess land.

“In 2001-02, the government allotted 49,118 sq m (for Dharamsala cricket stadium), of which the HPCA has the possession of only 46,000 sq m. The rest of the land has not been allocated to the HPCA. The claim that we have encroached upon 720 sq m land is invalid because that area is not under HPCA’s boundary,” he said.

“We are paying Rs.27 lakh per annum for 88 kanals of land for the hotel pavilion but the actual land allotted is only 65 kanals. We have never deceived the authorities and public,” Sharma added.

The vigilance bureau in August last year filed a cheating and misappropriation case against the HPCA.

“The land allotted to the HPCA was the common village land which could not be given for any commercial activity. There is a violation of land laws,” said a revenue official.

The Congress – then in the opposition – had objected to the land allotment.