Graft charges: BJP seeks probe, Virbhadra says he's ready
The Himachal Pradesh BJP Saturday sought a probe into accusations of state Congress leader Virbhadra Singh accepting a bribe of Rs.2.28 crore when he was union steel minister between May 2009 and January 2011.
"Let there be a probe by some independent agency, not by the CBI, so that truth will prevail," BJP general secretary J.P. Nadda told reporters here.
Seeking Virbhadra Singh's reply on the accusations of a TV channel, Nadda said the documents with the income tax department clearly mentioned Rs.2.28 crore was paid to 'VBS', initials of Virbhadra Singh, between 2009-10.
"Virbhadra Singh should make it clear that if he's not 'VBS' then who else was 'VBS' in his ministry during that period," Nadda said.
A TV channel report Friday had alleged that Ispat Industries Private Ltd of Pramod Mittal, who is the brother of steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, had paid bureaucrats and officials of the steel and coal ministries during 2009-10.
It said the amount seemed to have been paid when the company defaulted Rs.700 crore on letters of credit.
The BJP leader said Virbhadra Singh was to resign from the union cabinet when corruption charges were framed (in June) by a local (Shimla) court.
"The Congress party is patronising corruption," Nadda said.
However, defending himself, five-time chief minister Virbhadra Singh said in a statement here that the report has deliberately been timed to coincide with the forthcoming Vidhan Sabha elections.
"First and foremost, I do not write my initials as 'VBS' but as 'VS'. Secondly, I challenge anyone to prove that any undue favour was accorded to Ispat Industries. This company was not favoured by the steel ministry in any way, during my tenure," he said.
"I learn from media reports that a heavy fine was slapped on the company by the IT department. Has anyone bothered to find out as to what the findings of the IT department were.
"This issue is being raked up in the media by my detractors. It's a cheap political stunt and nothing more. I am willing to face any inquiry in this regard by any agency," the septuagenarian leader said.
Virbhadra Singh is spearheading the Congress' campaign in Himachal Pradesh where voting will be held Nov 4, and results will be declared Dec 20.