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Himachal never planned stadium at Annandale ground: BJP

Friday - Apr 20, 2012, 10:48am (GMT+5.5)
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Shimla -  The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Himachal Pradesh Thursday refuted allegations that the state government wanted to take possession of Shimla's Annandale ground for constructing a multipurpose stadium.

BJP general secretary J.P. Nadda said here that "the state government has no proposal to set up a stadium there".

"The state government has never supported any campaign for a cricket stadium or any sports activity on the ground," Nadda told reporters, but he clarified that there would be no compromise on getting back the ground's possession from the army.

"The government and the BJP only talked about getting the Annandale back from the army. There has been no proposal from the government side for a cricket stadium," said Nadda, a Rajya Sabha MP.

"Things have been read too much between the lines. Once the ground comes back to the state, the government would then decide on it pragmatically," he added.

Nadda said anyone would have reacted strongly when an army release was published carrying accusations against Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and the government.

"It turned out to be a sensitive matter. The issue is closed on this account now as the chief minister had taken it up with the prime minister. And the army too has said it would verify the same and take action," the BJP leader said.

He said the BJP government had high respect for the army and had been providing it all the facilities required in the national interest.

BJP national vice president Shanta Kumar Wednesday said "national security is more important than a cricket ground".

He asked party leaders to refrain from making statements against the armed forces.

Dhumal Monday took up his government's objection to the army's possession of Annandale ground with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He also threatened to file a defamation suit if the army did not apologise for alleging that the state government wanted to grab the Annandale ground.

The row is linked to the prime chunk of 121-bigha (one bigha is 0.4 hectare) Annandale ground, surrounded by thick forests and situated 4.5 km from Shimla's ridge, which has been under the army's control since the World War II.

The Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association, which is headed by Dhumal's son and Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur, has begun a campaign to get the ground restored to the state government for constructing a multipurpose stadium.


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