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HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Shimla, July 20, 2013
Chief minister Virbhadra Singh has finally buried the hatchet with one of his foremost political rivals, former tourism minister Vijay Singh Mankotia. Singh withdrew a six-year-old criminal defamation case against Mankotia on Saturday. The case was withdrawn after Singh had filed an application for withdrawing the case.

Mankotia in his statement had maintained that he had no intention to defame Singh. He added, "The press conference held in Dharamsala was bona fide and he had no intention to defame Singh and if he Singh had felt so, then it is regretted."

Singh had filed a criminal defamation case against Mankotia in 2007.

The defamation was filed after Mankotia, who was Congress legislator from Shahpur, released a controversial compact disc containing conversation between Virbhadra Singh, his wife Pratibha Singh and late Indian Administrative Services (IAS) office Mohinder Lal.

The case was filed in the court of chief judicial magistrate Yashwant Singh Chogal in Shimla. Singh had accused Mankotia of levelling "false and defamatory" allegations of corruption against him and his wife, who was then member of Parliament, by releasing a CD on the eve of the Lok Sabha byelection from Hamirpur in May 2007.

He had alleged that Mankotia had released the compact disc to help a BJP candidate to win the elections.

Singh had sought a lawful action against Mankotia, who was suspended from the party.
The compact disc had led to registration of FIR against the chief minister and his wife.
Later, Mankotia in 2007 joined Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party and spearheaded the campaign in the election. He had contested unsuccessfully from Dharamsala against former industry minister Kishan Kapoor.

However, just before the assembly elections last November, both Virbhadra Singh and Mankotia ended their rivalry.

Mankotia had contested on the Congress ticket, but lost to former social justice minister Sarveen Chaudhary.

A day before Virbhadra Singh took oath as chief minister on December 25, the local court of the special judge, forest, exonerated him and his wife of graft charges.