Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday did not comment on the charges of corruption levelled against Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh, saying that he did not get the time to consider the issue.
"I did not have time to apply my mind about what is the truth in the allegations against Virbhadra Singh," Manmohan said in reply to a question on charges levelled against the Himachal CM by the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley.
The Prime Minister said he was unable to comment on what was happening in Himachal Pradesh even though he had received a letter on December 29 from Jaitley in this regard and would try to ascertain the truth.
Virbhadra has been in the eye of a storm after the BJP allegations against him that he favoured a power company with which he and his family has business ties. Jaitley alleged that Virbhadra accepted money to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 2.4 crore, through cheques in his and his parliamentarian wife Pratibha Singh's name, from Venture Energy and Technology Pvt Ltd. He said the company was given two extensions in a hydroelectric power project despite defaulting.
"In the past few decades, no case of corruption has been so open and shut," Jaitley had said, seeking a CBI inquiry into "quid-pro-quo corruption". The BJP had also petitioned the Election Commission to initiate action against Virbhadra for allegedly giving wrong information to the poll panel.
The Congress has been on the back foot as party vice-president Rahul Gandhi has raised the bar on the fight against corruption. Virbhadra had rushed to Delhi after the allegations and briefed All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in charge of Himachal affairs Ambika Soni and former party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi.
Soni on Friday defended Virbhadra, saying that it was during the Congress government's rule that the contract of the company was cancelled, which negated Jaitley's allegations. "We are legally examining the issue, but as far as I am concerned, the chief minister has nothing to fear. He (Jaitley) has already agreed to an inquiry," Soni said.