Virbhadra Singh rebuts corruption allegations, to meet Sonia Gandhi today
New Delhi: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh is expected to meet and have discussions with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other senior party leaders on Wednesday in connection with the corruption allegations levelled against him by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Singh was summoned to the national capital by Gandhi on Tuesday, and as soon as he arrived last evening, described the BJP allegations as a "malicious campaign".
Singh`s wife, Pratibha Singh, who has also been accused of corruption, visited the AICC headquarters and met senior party leaders.
Media reports are quoting Congress party sources as saying that Virbhadra Singh may be given some time to explain his position.
He has reportedly brought files related to hydel projects, including Saikothi (15 MW) project, which was allotted to Venture Energy and Technologies Ltd.
Two Cabinet ministers, Sudhir Sharma (Urban and Housing) and Mukesh Agnihotri (Industry and Public relations), also accompanied Virbhadra to Delhi.
Meanwhile, former Himachal Pradesh chief minister and Leader of Opposition in the state Prem Kumar Dhumal has maintained that if Virbhadra does not resign, the central and state BJP leadership will meet President Pranab Mukherjee and seek his removal.
In a statement in the evening, Virbhadra refuted the allegations levelled by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley. "It is clarified that the Ispat Industry people have never met me except for once. I have never received any favour from them during my tenure as steel minister and neither any favour had been done to the firm during my period," he said.
About his alleged favours to a certain power project, Virbhadra said it was the erstwhile BJP government that gave the project an extension.
"On the other hand my government has taken a decision of cancelling the project thereby upholding the rule of law," he said.
Jaitley had on Monday accused Singh of being involved in three cases of corruption, one of which involved the owner of a private company.
"In 2002, hydropower projects were allotted to a few companies in Himachal Pradesh. Out of them Venture Energy and technology private limited defaulted in the project execution, due to which their contract was cancelled. Later, they were given an extension but the project was never made," said Jaitley.
"The owner of the company Vanshri Vakamula Chandrashekar got another extension, when Virbhadra Singh became the CM again a year back. Singh got an extension of ten months from the cabinet for Chandrashekar, immediately after which Chandrashekar paid Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh a sum of one crore fifty thousand and two crores respectively," he added.
He further said that the same money was invested in a new company opened by Chandrashekar called Taarini Enterprise Private Limited, through which, Singh`s wife, his son and daughter became its shareholders.
"As a CM he got an extension for the Chandrashekar and charged a large sum of money for the same. Two cases are already pending against Singh and is being investigated by the CBI," said Jaitley.
"Last year a media organization in Mumbai reported about a raid on a steel company that had records of the payments and someone with the initials of VBS had provided a large amount to that company. This is one of the two cases," he said.
"In the other, a guy named Anand Chauhan opened an account and deposited 5 crore in Punjab National Bank in Shimla and made a cheque in the name of Singh, his wife, and children through an insurance policy. He had apple orchards and had disclosed his income in three years to be 7, 15, 25 lakhs respectively," he added.
Jaitley further said that when Singh was raided, he requested for a tax revise and said in the previous revise return that he had written the facts wrong and added 6 crores in that.
"When he filed his first return, his contractor was a guy named Bhagwan Das whose contract expired retrospectively and he stated that Anand Chauhan had become his contractor who had been paying him two crores extra every year," said Jaitley.
"I can almost say without a fear of contradiction, that, in the last few years the kind of corruption cases I have seen, there is nothing more of an open and shut case than this. Everything is on record and I have also written a detailed letter with voluminous documents of all these incidents," he said.
"Now, there is a demand for opening the closure of the probe into the Adarsh Housing scam, but I would like to ask them that if they are asking a CBI enquiry on Adarsh, what are you doing about this issue? How can a person even continue as the chief minister for a minute after such cases have been reported against him?" asked Jaitley.
"I have also started to doubt their reaction about the Adarsh scam. I wonder if it was a genuine reaction or contrived?" he asked.
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