I have not looked into the issue: PM on charges against HP CM Virbhadra

Manmohan Singh draws sharp criticism from BJP for his remarks about Himachal CM.

New Delhi: Notwithstanding the controversy surrounding Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh over, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said he has not looked into the issue as he did not have the time for it, drawing sharp criticism from the BJP.

"I did not have time to apply my mind about what is the truth in the allegations against him," Singh said in reply to a question on corruption charges levelled against Virbhadra by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.

The Prime Minister said he was unable to comment on what is happening in Himachal Pradesh even though he has received a letter from Jaitley in this regard and will try to ascertain the truth.

"I am sorry I am not able to comment on what is happening in Himachal Pradesh. I have seen from newspaper reports. I have received a letter on December 29 from Arun Jaitley," he said. Attacking the Prime Minister's remarks, Jaitley later said, "I think his mindspace on issues of corruption seems to be reducing."

Asked to comment on the PM's statement on Virbhadra, Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, however, said, "It is okay. I do not think it (Virbhadra issue) has any direct relation with him (PM)."

Jaitley, when asked as to how he could rationalise the readmission of controversial former Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa into the party as he was also accused of corruption, said the Karnataka leader has returned to the BJP fold unconditionally and "its meaning is crystal clear".

He said after Yeddyurappa was charge-sheeted in a case, he was removed from Chief Ministership by BJP and after he parted ways the BJP got divided and "we have paid a heavy price".

The Himachal Chief Minister has been in the eye of a storm after the BJP levelled corruption allegations against him that he favoured a power company with which he and his family has business ties.

BJP has alleged that Virbhadra took a "bribe" from a private power firm, calling the case a "test" for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul on how they respond after their "anger" and outbursts in the Adarsh housing scam.

Demanding a CBI probe into the "most open and shut case of corruption", Jaitley, who has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, wanted to know what action he, the Congress President and Vice President would take against him.

Virbhadra has denied the allegations, dubbing them as "false and highly defamatory" and said he was ready to face any probe.

The Congress has also rubbished the charges so far and said these were old allegations.

Virbhadra had rushed to Delhi following the allegations and briefed AICC general secretary incharge of Himachal affairs Ambika Soni and former party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.

At a news conference in Delhi, Jaitley also alleged that the wife and children of Singh were made shareholders in another firm of the same promoter, who owns the power company, apparently in exchange of the favour showed by the state government.

In a five-page letter to the Prime Minister, Jaitley said these are cases which require an immediate investigation by both the Income Tax authorities and also the CBI.

Bharatiya Janata Yuva morcha president Anurag Thakur also hit back at Prime Minister for saying that he was "deeply committed to the objective of curbing corruption".

"The Prime Minister's commitment and sincerity in fighting corruption can be judged by the fact that he is 'yet to apply his mind' on the corruption cases against Congress CM Virbhadra Singh," Thakur said.

( Source : PTI )
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