Taking the battle to rival camp, chief minister Virbhadra Singh on Thursday filed a criminal defamation case against senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his two sons, Anurag and Arun Thakur.
Flanked by a battery of cabinet ministers, chief parliamentary secretaries and legislators, the CM filed the defamation case in the court of chief judicial magistrate Jyotsana S Rewal at Chakkar. “The Dhumals and Arun Jaitley have unleashed a malicious campaign against my family members and me through the media. Therefore, I was compelled to file the defamation case,” the CM later said at a press conference at his official residence, Oak Over. Virbhadra accused Dhumal of pursuing political vendetta: “In his first term, when he formed a coalition government with the support of Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC), he tried to implicate me in the 'Sagar Katha' case. But I was acquitted.”
The CM's move comes close on the heels of the BJP submitting a 'chargesheet' against the Congress to the state governor, Urmila Singh, and Jaitley writing a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accusing the CM of graft. However, Virbhadra on Thursday said the allegations levelled by the BJP were a counter to the investigations being carried out into the “wrongdoings” committed during the previous BJP regime. “Our chargesheet, which is being probed by the state vigilance bureau, contains serious charges of corruption and land scams against the Dhumals, former ministers and others” he said.
Accusing the Dhumal government of favouring the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), which is headed by Anurag, the CM said the previous BJP government went out of the way to give prime government land worth `250 crore at five locations to HPCA.
Further, he said the Dhumal government was involved in one of the biggest scams, phone tapping. “The previous government indulged in illegal phone tapping of its opponents, own ministers, officers and journalists,” he said and asked the national BJP leadership to give a statement on the issue.
Referring to the Sai Kothi project, he said the BJP government awarded the project to power company Venture Energy and Technology Limited in 2002. “The BJP even favoured four extensions between 2009 and 2012,” said Virbhadra, who is accused of accepting a bribe in the form of shares and a loan from the company's owner, Vakamulla Chandershekhar. He also accused Jaitley and the Dhumals of concealing facts while giving out information to the press to suit their “ulterior political motives”.
“They have made selective, opportunistic disclosures and tried to mislead the people by twisting and concealing vital facts,” the CM said, adding that the Dhumals and Jaitley had been harping on “false, frivolous and fabricated allegations”. “If they think they can finish me with their flimsy and filthy accusations, they are living in a world of their own. I am not going to be cowed down by their threats and malicious propaganda,” the CM said.