Shimla/New Delhi, Oct 19: Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh Friday denied allegations that he violated land laws to enable his brother-in-law to sell land to realty major DLF for an ultra-luxury housing project in the state as the BJP sharpened its attack on the Congress leader who is spearheading its poll effort.
“It’s a smear campaign of (Chief Minister Prem Kumar) Dhumal, (BJP leaders) Arun Jaitely and Anurag Thakur to malign my image in the run-up to the polls,” Virbhadra Singh told reporters here. Elections to the state assembly are slated for Nov 4 and results will be declared Dec 20.
“The election should be fought on the issue of development,” Singh, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee chief, said. He added that since his adversaries chose to defame him, he would pay them back in their own coin.
In New Delhi, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman alleged that Singh’s relatives violated state laws to buy agricultural and forest lands and sold them off to builders for windfall gains.
She said the list of corruption related charges against Singh is getting longer.
Sitharaman said Singh has been accused by a media house of having gone against the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reform Act.
“Lands were purchased by Singh’s relatives in 2003 for a pittance from farmers and others. These were then sold off for windfall gains a few years later. Forest and farming lands were acquired and sold away. It is alleged that lands acquired for Rs.14 lakh were sold away in 2006 for over Rs.22 crore,” she said.
There were also allegations of income tax evasion also against Singh’s family, she added.
The media report has alleged that the chief minister’s relatives had paid no income tax on the transaction of nearly 315 bighas, she added.
Some media reports have alleged that as the chief minister from 2003-07, Singh favoured his brother-in-law Arun Sen, who belongs to an erstwhile royal family, by granting him permission to sell his land in Solan district to realtor DLF in violation of laws.
Sen, however, has denied he had any such deal with DLF.
“I have never met any DLF functionary. Some of the co-sharers of our joint land sold it to someone who might have sold it further,” Sen told reporters in Shimla.
Sen alleged that a close aide of Dhumal got land parcels registered at 18 places in Kasauli in the name of Jaswant Singh in just two months in 2010.
Kasauli is a picturesque hill station located in Solan district. It has a major locational advantage due to its proximity to Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana.
The BJP had earlier attacked the Congress leader on Ispat Industries payoff scam, wherein a diary entry of Rs.2.28 crore was marked against the initials “VBS” during the period when Singh was the steel minister in the central government.