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Graft: Virbhadra asks BJP to go to Lokayukta
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi/Shimla, January 6
Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and the Congress today asked the BJP to approach the Lokayukta over alleged corruption allegations against the Chief Minister as he was ready to face the “consequences”.

The Chief Minister asked state BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal to go to the Lokayukta with whatever charges he wanted against him or anybody else, saying, “we will face the consequences there”.

“If he (Dhumal) has anything to say against me, as I said earlier also, he should go to the Lokayukta,” Virbhadra said in Shimla.

In his reply to a query on whether the high command was giving the Chief Minister a clean chit, party spokesperson Sanjay Jha said in Delhi: “For any responsible demand, you have to follow the process, you do not prejudge... Once again we are jumping the gun. Let Lokayukta investigate.”

He said the party believed a clean chit could be given by legal authorities, courts and the police.

“Virbhadra has given a document and there is clear categorical message in that. He believes that it is a clear case of political vendetta and the action has been taken by the previous BJP regime. There is a Lokayukta in the state if there is a statement which indicts somebody.”

The Congress high command is likely to meet Virbhadra Singh and state Congress president Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu amid mounting pressure by the BJP.

Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) chief Sukhu, who is already in Delhi, is likely to meet senior Congress leaders, including AICC general secretary and Himachal in charge Ambika Soni.

Sukhu was summoned by the Congress high command to get feedback on the ongoing controversy and spate of allegations levelled by BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal against Virbhadra.

The CM is scheduled to leave for Delhi tomorrow to attend a meeting of state Congress presidents and Congress Legislature Party leaders with the committee headed by Madhusudan Mistry, to review the party’s preparedness for the Lok Sabha elections. Virbhadra may try and meet Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Ever since the BJP led by Jaitley opened front against Virbhadra, the CM has been unable to meet Sonia. As such he will try and meet the party chief and explain his stand.





hpca case
Vigilance looks to target ex- CM Dhumal
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Dharamsala, January 6
The Himachal Pradesh Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau seems to be looking to include former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal in the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) case.

KK Pant, Joint Secretary with the Department of Defence Production, and Kangra former Deputy Commissioner, today reportedly deposed before the bureau saying he had got directions from the former Chief Minister to hold a meeting regarding the demolition of residential quarters meant for UGC teachers on the local government college land.

The vigilance had earlier registered a case against HPCA officials and others for allegedly demolishing the building of the government college and allowing the association to encroach upon the vacated land.

This is the first time that Dhumal’s name has figured in the case.

A local activist, Vinay Sharma, further released a letter purportedly issued by Pant on May 24, 2008, in which he claimed that the meeting to demolish the dilapidated UGC quarters was taken on Dhumal’s directions.

Sharma demanded the inclusion of Dhumal’s name in the FIR since he had given directions to demolish the building. Pant’s statement was recorded at the vigilance police station in Dharamsala. Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) Bimal Gupta refused to divulge the details but said Pant had been summoned once again on January 13 for further questioning.

On whether or not Dhumal’s name would be included in the FIR based on Pant’s statement, the officer said there was no such move. Pant’s involvement in the case pertains only to the meeting held by him during his stint as the Kangra Deputy Commissioner in 2008 for demolishing the UGC teachers’ quarters.

The vigilance had arrested a former PWD Sub-Divisional Officer for giving technical clearance for the demolition of the building, and PWD executive engineer for forwarding the report for action. The vigilance was also looking into the alleged presence of HPCA officials at the meeting held to discuss the demolition of the building.

Pant was reportedly questioned about the presence of HPCA officials at the meeting.

With the war of words between Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal’s family getting shriller, it is likely latter’s name will be included among the suspects in the case. But sources said since the orders issued by Dhumal were verbal, it would be legally difficult for the vigilance to charge him in the case.





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