Within hours of Indian National Lok Dal chief Om Prakash Chautala accusing Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi of purchasing land in Haryana at below market value and evading stamp duty, the Congress moved swiftly late on Wednesday evening to do some damage control, lest this new accusation hit the party where it will hurt it the hardest.

In a press release, the Congress, describing Mr. Chautala’s allegations as “false, utterly baseless and defamatory,” said that on March 3, 2008 Mr. Gandhi had purchased 6.456 acres of land at Hassanpur village in Palwal district for Rs. 26, 47, 000 on making payment by cheque. This “is the equivalent of Rs. 4,10,006 per acre.” The release then says the prevailing Collector Rate for land at Hassanpur in 2007-08 and as of March 3, 2008 was Rs. 1, 50, 000 per acre. Mr. Gandhi, the statement continues, paid stamp duty of 6 per cent amounting to Rs. 1,58,820 on the purchase price of Rs. 26, 47, 000 at Rs 4,10,006 per acre ( i.e. at over 2.7 X the prevailing Collector Rate).

The accusations against Mr. Gandhi come in the wake of the controversy over the questionable purchase of land in Haryana by his brother-in-law, Robert Vadra.

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