At a time when top-rung leaders of the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP are busy trading charges over corruption and administration, a high-voltage political drama is expected on the birthday of Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association president and MP Anurag Thakur.
Thakur is adamant to visit the state anti-corruption bureau office on his birthday on Thursday in spite of being summoned on October 31.
What raked the controversy was a notice sent to Thakur along with two other HPCA officials, Vishal Marwah and Attar Singh Negi, to appear before the investigating agency's north zone, police station, for investigation on October 24, in a case of cheating registered against the cricket body.
Thakur in a press conference held at Dharamsala on October 20 accused the state government of harassing him stating that he has been summoned to appear before the vigilance bureau on his birthday.
He also alleged that the date on the notice he received was deliberately changed from October 22 to 24. “This is a birthday gift from the government but I have cancelled all my programmes on the day and will join the investigation,” he had said.
However, vigilance officials while elaborating about the turn of events said there was no mala fide intention behind summoning Thakur on his birthday.
SP, vigilance, north zone, Bimal Gupta said the first notice was sent to Thakur and two other HPCA officials to personally join the investigations on October 24.
“Earlier, we had decided to summon them on October 22 and it was mentioned on the notice. However, after we realised that it was Karva Chauth on that day, the date on the same notice was changed,” Gupta said, adding that the bureau never asked them to appear on October 22.
“There was no mala fide intent behind changing the date. At that time we were not aware of Thakur's birthday,” he said.
Gupta added that a fresh notice was sent to the trio on October 21 informing them about that postponement of date of their appearance to October 31. The notice was delivered through email, through post and by hand.
However, the vigilance bureau on Wednesday received an email from Thakur that the date of his personal appearance should not be changed as he has cancelled all his programmes scheduled for October 24 and also that he has a tight schedule after his birthday and hence will not be able to join the investigations.
“Now, we have informed him that there could be no change in the schedule as the investigating officer in case will be out of station for inquiry directed by the high court in another case,” Gupta said, adding that the bureau has the prerogative to summon any person to join investigation on any date.
Meanwhile, Thakur remained firm on his decision of appearing before the vigilance bureau on Thursday. “When an MP can spare time to join the investigations, why can't cops do the same,” said Thakur.
Meanwhile, Thakur's supporters have planned various programmes to give him a warm welcome on his birthday in Dharamsala. While a community lunch has been scheduled at Dharamsala, various programmes are scheduled to be held on the way. Thakur's supporters are also planning to accompany him to the vigilance office. However, vigilance officials say gathering at the bureau office will amount to pressurising and intimidating officials of the investigating agency.