Charges false, cheap political stunt: Virbhadra

FP

Former union minister for steel Virbhadra Singh on Saturday dismissed allegations that he had received money from a private steel company. Stating that the charges were a politically "motivated campaign" by the BJP ahead of the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh next month, Singh threatened legal action.

"This is totally false, malicious and motivated. I strongly deny this. It's been done at the behest of my detractors," said Singh, rejecting the charges as a "cheap political stunt".

Singh, who was forced out as Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises after a Shimla court framed corruption charges against him in June 2012, is leading the Congress's election campaign in Himachal Pradesh. He has served multiple tenures as chief minister of the state.

"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," said Singh.

"I am surprised that the Income-Tax department or any other government department never bothered to get in touch with me or questioned me on this issue. I am hearing about it for the first time through media reports," said Singh.

Stating that he was "willing to face any inquiry in this regard by any agency", Singh contested media reports which claimed that payments were made to one 'VBS'.

"First and foremost, I do not write my initials as VBS but as VS," the former minister said.

Supporting Singh, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said: "Obviously, there are question marks about the timing of the allegations. As I understand, the papers relate to a time two years back. They are being used now to make charges at a time when the state is going to polls and Congress is on the upsurge. It is an attempt to derail the Congress campaign. But the good thing is that people see through these scheming very easily."

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