‘Contract referred to by Jaitley was actually awarded during BJP rule’

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s detailed reply to BJP leader Arun Jaitley’s allegations of corruption against him has been forwarded by Congress leaders to the high command.

During his visit here on Wednesday, Mr. Singh held consultations with AICC general secretary in-charge of Himachal Pradesh Ambika Soni, party general secretary Ajay Maken and spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

He has given a point-by-point response to the BJP leader. “Mr. Singh spoke about how the power contract referred to by Mr. Jaitley had actually been awarded during the BJP rule in the State in 2002 and was rescinded by the Congress government,” said a senior Congress leader.

The party leaders who interacted with Mr. Singh have since submitted a report to the senior leaders. Both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi have been apprised of Mr. Singh’s defence.

A senior leader said that prima facie it emerged that there was no substance in Mr. Jaitley’s allegation that Mr. Singh had accepted Rs 1.5 crore and Rs 2.4 crore by cheque in his and his MP-wife Pratibha Singh's names from Venture Energy and Technology Pvt. Ltd.

“Still, Mr. Singh provided a very descriptive counter to the allegations.”

Mr. Jaitley earlier this week alleged that it was an “open-and-shut case,” and said it was a test for the Congress president and vice-president to show their sincerity in combating corruption. He also urged the Prime Minister, through a letter, to get the matter probed.