Political pot-shot over Himachal CM's loan

Shimla, Oct 26 (IANS) Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who is popularly known as `Raja Saab', has taken a combative stand after his honesty and integrity were questioned on raising a personal loan of Rs.3.90 crore. Virbhadra Singh has said that nobody has questioned his integrity in all his tenures, in the state and in the central government.

Breaking a silence almost a fortnight after former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal's sons Anurag Thakur and Arun Dhumal accused him and his parliamentarian wife Pratibha Singh of raising an unsecured loan from an individual, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh said: "As an individual, I have every right to raise a loan."

"Nobody has ever raised a finger ever on my honesty and integrity. I was made to face court cases each time Dhumal came to power," he told reporters here Tuesday.

At the same time he questioned the senior Dhumal, asking him to clarify which section of the law he has violated by taking the loan.

"There is nothing to hide. My income tax returns and the election affidavits have clearly reflected that I and my wife have raised loans. So where is the question of any wrongdoing?" said the 78-year-old, popularly known as 'Raja Saab' as he was born heir into the erstwhile princely state of Bushahr.

Without mincing words, he said the Dhumals have started a malicious campaign against him since the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau booked both Dhumals - Anurag Thakur and Arun - for allegedly grabbing land near Dharamsala by forging revenue records.

"Every day media reports carry quotes of 'Aira-Gaira Nathu Khaira' (Tom, Dick and Harry) raising unsubstantiated charges against me," Virbhadra Singh said, adding he "has no personal enmity with the Dhumal family".

Just a few hours after his assertions, Dhumal's son Arun again challenged the chief minister by accusing him of unleashing political vendetta against him, his father and his brother Anurag Thakur, who is MP and president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA).

"Let the chief minister choose the date, place and time for a debate on the allegations of corruption and land deals against us," he said in a statement.

Political observers say it's political fight between the chief minister and the Dhumals only.

"In his last tenure (2007-12) Dhumal got Virbhadra Singh and his wife booked in a 23-year-old corruption case on the basis of an audio CD whose origin was not known. Later both came out clean," said an observer.

Now Virbhadra Singh is paying back the Dhumals in the same coin by initiating probes against them, he said.

But so far the BJP has been maintaining stoic silence on the issue of raising loan by the chief minister.

"It's the 'Pita' (father) who is coming to defend his 'putras' (sons) and vice versa, whereas the party's other leaders are quiet. This clearly indicates the party is no mood to support misdeeds of the Dhumals," said a senior Congress leader.

Earlier this month, Arun Dhumal questioned the rationale behind the chief minister and his wife raising an unsecured loan of Rs.3.90 crore from one Vakamulla Chander Sekhar of New Delhi.

A confident Dhumal asked the chief minister: "Money lending is illegal. Has he not committed an offence?"

"Where has he invested the (borrowed) money, the people want to know," Dhumal told IANS.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

Kallis, Narine star in Knight Riders’ crushing win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

Pietersen to miss Delhi's first game

The former England batsman will have to lead the franchise as he is out of the match against Bangalore with a finger injury. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'If you do the wrong thing it will be found out'

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Mitchell Johnson may quit T20s for Test cricket

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The stage is set for IPL-7 to start

The Preview — Defending champions Mumbai Indians take on Kolkata Knight Riders More »

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

Srinivasan appeals to court to allow BCCI comeback

He was aggrieved by the allegations against him during the hearing. More »

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Klinger on his exit from South Australia

Michael Klinger has revealed he felt compelled to leave South Australia after being told he would be only a fringe part of the Redbacks' plans for next season, and disputed the suggestion that he left… More »

India: cricket's Brazil

India: cricket's Brazil

They are tough to beat with a big talent base exposed to good facilities. (CYCSPL) More »

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Delhi Daredevils say no to gifts

Franchises are doing their bit to refurbish the image of the tainted league. More »

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

India-Pakistan Test series likely in 2015

The revival of Indo-Pak Test ties could take place in UAE. More »

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

Kohli hopes to end RCB trophy drought

'This time around we will hope to go few more steps ahead and actually get that trophy' More »

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Gavaskar can help IPL regain glory

Apart from the foreign players a lot of behind-the-scene activity has taken place in selecting the Indian domestic players. More »

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Tendulkar, Ganguly to promote soccer

Leading Spanish club Atletico Madrid and former cricketers Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are among the owners of eight franchises of a new Indian… More »

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

This isn’t my first trip to India: Neesham

Kiwi all-rounder wants to utilise the India leg to explore the country’s tourist attractions. More »

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Ishant wanted to quit ODIs

Says his mother made him change his mind. More »