Beni Prasad confirms authenticity of papers but defends Virbhadra

Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley has said payments made by a steel manufacturing company to officials in various government departments and individuals from 2007 to 2010 are a fit case for probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).

In a write-up under the title ‘The ‘VBS’ Mystery,’ Mr. Jaitley raised several questions on the excel sheet entries recovered from Ispat Industries and asked what action the government took after the Income Tax Department had recovered them in a raid in 2010.

Interestingly, hours after Mr. Jaitley’s article, circulated by the BJP, Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma confirmed the authenticity of the papers recovered from Ispat Industries but defended his predecessor Virbhadra Singh rejecting allegations that he had received funds from the firm.

He maintained that the papers seized by the Income Tax Department containing the name of a beneficiary as “VBS” were a mere handiwork of company employees to siphon off funds.

The BJP leader argued that the diaries contained an entry on expenses spent by the Corporate Group on the CBI and the ED and it was a fit case where the legal process had to be set into motion and be referred to a SIT consisting of officers of unquestionable integrity.

“It has serious implications on governance in India. It is a corruption issue. There is no reason why this fact has not been brought to the notice of the appropriate anti-corruption mechanism and various investigative procedures being invoked. Any public servant who has suppressed facts relating to the commission of an offence, himself is culpable and liable for dereliction of duty. It is obvious that the government tried to conceal this fact. Truth is difficult to be suppressed; it leaks itself out,” the BJP leader said.

Asking what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would do now, Mr. Jaitley wondered if Dr. Singh was going to add to the environment of negativity by looking the other way and ignoring facts.

“Were these facts known to him and the Congress president when they took certain decisions with regard to the Congress party’s organisational changes in Himachal Pradesh? Their silence will reflect on their condonation of corruption,” he maintained.

On the charges levelled by the then Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh that the BJP was behind the smear campaign, Mr. Jaitley said the records had been recovered by the IT department. Without getting into whether ‘VBS’ stood for the then Steel Minister, Mr. Jaitley argued that since payments to VBS had been authorised by ‘AKS,’ it would not be difficult to identify who ‘AKS’ was.

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