Shimla: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday sought an inquiry on the tax returns of the Congress party`s chief ministerial candidate for Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh, and also demanded a probe into alleged land scams in which he was involved.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley, who was addressing a press conference in Shimla this afternoon, demanded an investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on allegations that Singh received kickbacks, and facilitated huge cash deposits in favour of his business partner Anand Chauhan.
Singh, an erstwhile ruler of Himachal Pradesh, has been accused by the BJP of allegedly receiving kickbacks to the tune of Rs 2.3 crore from Ispat Industries when he was Union Steel Minister between 2009 and 2010.
“A person who calls himself a Raja should not do all this,” said Arun Jaitley.
Jaitely further opined that in the last few years under the UPA-II regime, there has been unprecedented corruption, and added that the general public is concerned and affected by the LPG, diesel price hike, as also by the proposal to bring FDI in retail.
Referring to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her visits to poll-bound states in recent times, the senior BJP leader, while referring to the issue of corruption, said: “She should have seen who was sharing the stage with her, and then, she would not have been able to mention that word.”
Specifically referring to Virbhadra Singh, he said: “It is not merely a revenue issue, it is a corruption issue. The allegations against Virbhadra Sigh could be shameful for any political party. Someone who is a minister, Chief Minister must always be demonstrably more honest than others.”
“The issue is not whether the minister puts his initials down as VS or VBS - what we need to investigate is what those entries mean. It is a money trail - from Mumbai to Shimla. Unaccounted money finds itself in a ghost account and Virbhadra and family are beneficiaries,” he added.
He referred to Anand Chauhan as a former Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) agent based in Shimla, who had made huge sums of money during his association with Singh.
“Chauhan draws cheques on that account and pays LIC. The sum is Rs 6 crore and the cash is converted to cheques and single premium policies are bought in the name of four people - those people become beneficiaries - Virbhadra Singh, his wife, and two children.
“All of these transactions are between 2008 and 2010 - from Mumbai diaries to Shimla policies. Virbhadra Singh was a royal. He has real estate, and had an apple orchard. He gave that on contract to one Bishambhar Dass - who pays an annuity of Rs 10.5 lakhs a year - that finds mention in the IT returns - 2009, 2010, 2011 7.5 lakhs, 15 lakhs and 25 lakhs has been declared as his agricultural income,” Jaitley added.
“The questions are obvious. You have filed two sets of returns, two agreements, ghost accounts are opened. There are so many evidences in the first instance,” said the senior BJP leader.
Jaitley also ruled out the possibility of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) investigating the payments, as it has a poor track record on this score.
“I believe that it is not a tax case. This is a corruption case that should be investigated. We did not have the papers. The revelations have been made two weeks ago by the media,” said Jaitley.