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Power games: MEA probes land scams by missions abroad

The ministry has been informed that the money spent by some of the missions on acquiring real estate was two times and in some cases even three times of the market price.

Screenshot 2024 05 06 091632The Ministry of External Affairs investigating reports of the purchase of land at inflated prices by its missions abroad. The MEA had asked Indian missions that are housed in rented premises to purchase land and build embassies. The ministry has been informed that the money spent by some of the missions on acquiring real estate was two times and in some cases even three times of the market price.

The Comptroller and Auditor General was the first to raise a red flag on these deals. According to sources, the CAG team visited one such country where the Indian embassy had bought land and found grave violations of norms. It also found that the money spent on acquiring land was over two times of the prevailing market price.

Similar cases from other countries have reportedly been brought to the MEA’s notice. The ministry is now busy investigating the case. It is also looking at the possible involvement of officers from South Block in these deals. Sources said two different teams of the MEA have visited these countries to check the records of these transactions. The MEA is likely to conduct a forensic examination of all the properties acquired by its missions in the last ten years. The ministry’s report will soon be submitted to the competent authorities for action.

Fund Crunch | More exits likely as Congress eyes winnability

The cash-strapped Congress has divided the Lok Sabha seats it is contesting in the current Lok Sabha elections into three categories. It has put the most winnable seats in Category A, seats where it has a chance of winning with a good campaign have been put in Category B and seats where it is contesting but has only an outside chance of winning are in Category C. This categorization is done to make optimal utilization of the resources available to the party.

The party is focusing its resources on the winning seats. Sources said while the withdrawal by its candidates in Surat and Indore were clear cases of defections, the decision by its Puri candidate Sucharita Mohanti to return the party ticket was a result of Congress’ decision not to spend money on seats it is not sure of winning. Mohanti, who has been a working journalist all her life, did not have the resources to fight the election.

She returned the party ticket after not getting financial support and being asked to fend for herself. Sources said more exits are likely in the coming days as the party has tightened its purse strings and is focusing all its resources on around 150 seats where it finds itself in the best position to win. Congress has been struggling for funds ever since its accounts were frozen following issues with its returns.

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