New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday claimed there was a "criminal nexus" between Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and former IPL chief Lalit Modi, and stepped up pressure by producing fresh documents in support of its claim that the Dholpur Palace was a state-owned property. The BJP once again refuted the charge as "baseless".
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh produced certain documents that allegedly showed that Raje's son Dushyant Singh and his father Hemant Singh reached a compromise on only the movable properties of the Dholpur Palace whereas the palace itself was a public property.
"We will keep disclosing information until Prime Minister Narendra Modi makes a statement and orders a probe into the matter," he said.
Ramesh also demanded an independent probe into the entire controversy.
"There has been a criminal nexus between Lalit Modi and the Raje family. Until there is a closure to this issue, the Congress will keep bringing out disclosures," the former union minister added.
However, BJP spokesperson G.V.L. Narasimha Rao told IANS: "After losing the last general elections, the Congress party has become directionless. The Congress has lost its balance, so they are raising a personal issue from the party forum."
"The people of Rajasthan know it very well that Vasundhara ji belongs to which family and how much property she has. Such personal allegations against Raje will hurt the Congress more," he added.
In Jaipur, the Bharatiya Janata Party's Rajasthan unit maintained that the Dholpur Palace in the state belonged to Raje's son Dushyant Singh and challenged the Congress to prove it to the contrary.
State BJP chief Ashok Parnami showed some documents, including some court and family settlement papers, to reporters saying that the palace actually belonged to Dushyant Singh.
"The Congress is unnecessarily levelling baseless allegations and indulging in petty politics," he said.
"We are giving replies based on documentary proof. Anyone is free to verify the documents... you can get the documents through RTI."
Parnami asked if the Congress found something wrong in the deal, why did it not initiate any probe when it was in power both at the centre and the state.
Terming the charges levelled by Ramesh as baseless and unsubstantiated, the BJP leader said the documents shown by him "prove that Dushyant holds the Dholpur Palace's ownership".
Rajendra Rathore, Rajasthan's parliamentary affairs and medical and health minister, at a press conference challenged Ramesh to join him in a debate and termed the Congress charges "absurd".
"Either he should prove the charges or else quit politics," Rathore said.
Ramesh earlier asserted that a 1949 document showed the city palace of Dholpur was a state property but the then Maharaja Udaibhan Singh was to remain in possession and use the property during his lifetime.
Responding to the BJP's claims that when the National Highways Authority of India acquired the land near the palace, the compensation had gone to Raje's son Dushyant Singh, Ramesh said there was a CBI case challenging the grant of compensation to him.
"On April 10, 2013, two people complained to the CBI that this land was illegally acquired. Dushyant Singh is not the owner," Ramesh said.
The Congress leader said the prime minister and the union home minister, under whom the CBI functions, need to answer questions about the fate of the complaint.