Dismissing allegations that he had received money from a private steel company, former Union Minister Virbhadra Singh on Saturday threatened legal action against all the people behind the “motivated campaign”.
He dubbed the graft allegations as a “cheap political stunt” and said he was ready to face “any inquiry” by “any agency” in this regard.
“This is totally false, malicious and motivated and I strongly deny this. Furthermore I am willing to face any inquiry in this regard by any agency,” Mr. Singh said.
He claimed that the issue was being raked up in the media by his detractors to influence the Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections.
“It is a cheap political stunt and nothing more,” said Mr. Singh, a five-time chief minister of Himachal Pradesh.
Mr. Singh’s statement comes in the wake of reports in a section of the media claiming that he and several others received payoffs from ISPAT Industries.
“...I challenge anyone to prove that any undue favour was accorded to ISPAT Industries, this company was not favoured by the Steel Ministry in any way, during my tenure,” said Mr. Singh, who was the Union Minister for Steel between May 2009 and January 2011.
Contesting media reports, which claimed that payments were made to one ‘VBS’, Mr. Singh said, “First and foremost I do not write my initials as VBS but as VS.”
“Once the polls are over I will take legal action against all the people who are behind this false, motivated and negative campaign against me,” he said.
When contacted, Vinod Mittal, who was the promoter of ISPAT Industries when the alleged payoffs were made, refused to comment saying he was not aware of the details as he was abroad.
“I am not in India... Right now I am in such a place where there is no Internet. So I cannot comment now, I have not seen the documents,” Mr. Mittal told PTI over phone.
“You can ask JSW Steel and Sajjan Jindal. They are the promoters of ISPAT now,” he said.
Mr. Mittal said he would return to Mumbai on Wednesday.
JSW Steel had acquired 41 per cent stake in ISPAT Industries in December 2010. JSW Steel later increased its stake to 46.75 per cent and remains the single-largest shareholder in JSW ISPAT.
In reply to an email query, a JSW spokesperson said controversy pertains to a period before ISPAT was acquired by JSW.
“The period referred in your email is prior to acquisition by JSW Steel. The previous management can only clarify on this issue,” the spokesperson said.