Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh has denounced and dismissed the allegations leveled against him by BJP leaders Prem Kumar Dhumal and Arun Jaitley recently, as being false, frivolous and fabricated. Singh termed the accusations as preposterous and politically motivated.
In a press statement, Virbhadra Singh said that BJP leaders were making unsubstantiated personal attacks on him in sheer desperation and frustration as the ongoing probes on the basis of charge-sheet submitted by the Congress Party against the misrule and misdeeds of the previous BJP Government in the State were gaining momentum.
On the formation of the Congress Government in the State, the Election Manifesto of the Congress Party was adopted as the Policy Document of the State Government and the chargesheet was handed over to the State Vigilance Bureau for fair and independent investigation since the Government was bound by responsibility to fulfill the promise made to the people of the State. The chargesheet contained serious charges of corruption and land scams against P.K. Dhumal, his family members, ministers, others and high profile cases of land deals and change of land use involving Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth, Prashant Bhushan’s Trust, HPCA’s hotel, Bemloe construction, Annandale area etc.
Virbhadra Singh said that there was imminent involvement of P.K. Dhumal and his family in large number of cases including Bemloe construction project at Shimla. He claimed that the then Dhumal Government got the project approved overnight and released Rs. 32 lakh for construction of forest road connecting Bemloe colony on application filed in the name of dead people. A large number of trees were felled for the Project. Dhumal Government went out of the way to give precious Govt. land worth Rs. 200 Crores at five places to Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association headed by the son of Dhumal. He alleged that the Government properties were illegally demolished to facilitate HPCA stadium at Dharamshala. Dhumal Government indulged in illegal phone tapping of their political opponents, their own ministers, officers and media persons, which is a serious scam. Serious criminalities have been committed in all these cases, which were in advanced stage of investigation. Dhumal and his sons were resorting to pressure building tactics and political gimmicks.
There is likely involvement of Dhumal family in money laundering and benami land transactions besides allegations of disproportionate assets and income.
Singh stated that all the acts of omission and commission enlisted in the chargesheet were now being probed and BJP leaders were feeling the heat of it. Now, fearing legal action for their misdeeds BJP leaders were indulging in malicious propaganda and mud-slinging against him and his family members to distract public attention from their own wrong doings.
He said that during the assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh in October-November 2012, National BJP leaders including Arun Jaitley had leveled same wild and baseless accusations about his Income Tax returns and alleged favours to Ispat Industry, which were totally baseless. Jaitley had not only illegally procured details of his income tax returns, which cannot be obtained even under RTI without the consent of the assesses, but had also shown them at a Press Conference in Shimla withholding parts of it to suit his party’s political motive.
Preliminary inquiry was being made by CBI, Delhi Branch on the basis of an anonymous complaint managed by these BJP leaders on the same charges as had been raised by Arun Jaitley and have also been included in the PIL filed by Prashant Bhushan in the Delhi High Court after the Himachal Government initiated a case of illegal purchase of Tea Garden by him at Kandbari, Palampur in the name of Kumud Bhushan Educational Society, which he could not have purchased as there was total ban on selling of Tea Gardens and lands subservient to Tea industry in the State to non-agriculturists.
Virbhadra Singh claimed that hard facts about Sai-kothi Project had been misrepresented by the BJP leaders. He stated that Sai-kothi Project was awarded to M/s Venture Energy and Technology Ltd., in the year 2002 during the BJP Government. The said project was issued show cause notice in December, 2002 and cancellation process was initiated in January, 2003 during the BJP Government.
During April 2003 to 2004 the company approached the then Congress Government in the State but the proposal to restore the project was rejected thrice by the Cabinet. The company then approached the High Court of Himachal Pradesh in 2005. High Court vide its order dated 8th June, 2005 and 19th July, 2005 awarded the project to HPSEB. The Company then approached the Supreme Court of India which passed orders for reconsideration of allotment of the project to the said company vide order dated 5.09.2005 and 15.9. 2006. Based on directions of Supreme Court orders and intervention, the project was restored to M/s Venture Energy &Technology Ltd. in June, 2007.
He said that it was a matter of record that Sai-kothi Project was given extension on four occasions by the BJP Government during 2009 to 2012. The fourth extension given by the BJP in October, 2012 (during election code of conduct) even extended upto March 2013 of Congress regime in the State. He said that his Government gave extension to Sai-kothi Project just once and that too by levying an extension fee @ Rs. 20,000/- (Twenty Thousand) per MW per month, which was double than the extension fees @ Rs. 10,000/-per MW per month levied by the BJP Government. It was absolutely ridiculous to accuse his Government of favouring the Company, Singh claimed
With regard to raising personal loan by him from Vakamulla Chandrashekhar, Virbhadra Singh clarified that, being a family friend, personal loan was raised from him by cheque on payment of interest. He claimed that this was a legal transaction which is permissible and the loan along with interest is being repaid through cheque to him in installments. There should not be any objection to anyone for such a transaction. Moreover, no favour was ever shown to Chandrashekhar by him or the Congress Government headed by him, Singh asserted.
In a statement Singh clarified that a loan of Rs. 2.40 crore was taken by him and that of Rs. 1.50 crore by Pratibha Singh during July 2011 to November 2011. Out of this amount, he had given Rs. 1.20 crore to his son Vikramaditya Singh by cheque. During this period there was BJP Government in the State and the question of his benefitting the person did not arise. How could he have granted favour to the company when he was not even in the State? The loan was duly reflected in the documents filed at the time of election of Smt. Pratibha Singh. The loan carried reasonable interest and the loan amount was being repaid in installments along with interest through cheques.
He said that his family members had purchased shares in Tarini Infrastructure Ltd. The shares purchased are fully paid up and were purchased as primary shares in 2009 and were approved in 2010-11. All requisite rules and regulations have been complied while applying for shares and there was no violation/irregularity/illegality whatsoever in subscribing to the equity shares or M/s Tarini infrastructure Ltd., he emphasized.
Virbhadra Singh said that Prem Kumar Dhumal and Arun Jaitley have deliberately suppressed relevant facts in their press conferences to suit their ulterior political motive. They have made selective opportunist disclosures and tried to mislead by twisting and concealing vital facts.
Virbhadra Singh said that it was strange that Prem Kumar Dhumal family, Prashant Bhushan and Arun Jaitley were singing same old chorus, which smells of connivance and conspiracy. Prashant Bhushan and Dhumal family are facing probes for their wrong doings, and Jaitley is known in Himachal as an Advocate of Dhumals having represented in HPCA case earlier.
He wanted to know from Jaitley the reason for his attempt at bowling a googlie on behalf of Dhumal family. What special interest did Arun Jaitley had in Dhumal and his family? Had he been paid as an Advocate to stage the show on their call, was it a cricketering company gesture or there was something deeper beneath as he had raised same issues and divulged same information as had been done by son of P.K. Dhumal in his press conferences at Shimla. He said that Jaitley and Dhumal were behaving like a complainant, prosecutor and a judge all unto himself and pleading, prosecuting and passing orders in a same stretch.
Feelings threatened by the growing popularity of Congress Government in the State and to hide their own misdeeds of last five years, BJP leaders were indulging in mud-slinging. He said that there was a foul play to involve him in false cases and malign his reputation, but these unfounded ulterior motives would not succeed. He said that he will not be cowed down by such threats and malicious propaganda, which is designed to malign his image in the public.