Shahid Siddique lashes out at Virbhadra Singh for threatening media

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 24, 2012 15:02 hrs

Former politician and journalist Shahid Siddiqui criticised former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh for threatening mediapersons on Wednesday while rubbishing all graft allegations levelled against him.

Siddiqui said all corrupt people were frustrated in wake of the exposures that are being made about their wrongdoings.

He said that the media is like a mirror, which showcases a politician's true colours, but it was impossible to shut every person's mouth and break all cameras.

"All the corrupt people, whether they are of BJP or Congress or Samajwadi Party or any other party, they are all frustrated right now. They are looking at the mirror; media is the mirror. The television channels are the mirror and they are looking at their face in the mirror and in their frustration and anger, they want to break the mirror. They do not want to change their face. But how many mirrors are you going to break? People of this country are now totally aware and are ready to fight corruption. Every common man in this country, the slogan of the middle class young girls and boys is that they want to fight corruption," said Siddiqui.

A leading national newspaper 'The Hindu' reported that Singh had changed his income tax documents from 2008 onwards to show a back-dated contract and a highly inflated income of around rupees 6.5 crore (rupees 65 million) from apple business.

The money was deposited in account of Anand Chauhan, who was appointed by Singh to manage his apple orchards and to invest the income from the sale of apples in government securities such as insurance policies etc.

Chauhan then used this money from his account to pay the insurance premiums of LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) policies issued in the name of Singh, his wife and his two children.

Meanwhile, spokesperson of India's ruling Congress party, Rashid Alvi refused to comment on the same, saying that he had no information about the incident.

In addition, he expressed confidence regarding Congress party's win in poll-bound Himachal Pradesh.

"See, I do not know anything about this. I will say anything only after enquiring at length about the incident. I do not think your question is justified and we are confident that the Congress party will form its government in Himachal Pradesh," he said.

Singh would contest the upcoming single-phase elections in Himachal Pradesh from Shimla (Rural), which is scheduled to take place on November 4.

It was alleged that he was paid a bribe of rupees 20.3 million by a private firm when he was the steel minister.

Another Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit apologised for Virbhadra Singh's misdemeanour. He termed the incident as unfortunate and said that sometimes due to heat of the moment individuals tend to react impulsively.

"It is election time and if Virbhadra Singh acted in an impulsive manner. I do not think it is right at this stage. But, he is a senior leader and sometimes in this atmosphere of elections, people get tense and say things impulsively. I am confident that there was no wrong intention behind this. If there is any problem, then we apologize on his behalf, sometimes things happen, so we should take it in that spirit," he said.

A news channel on October 12 had aired a report, based on documents from the income tax department, stating that the bureaucrats and the officials associated with the steel and coal ministries were bribed during 2009-2010.

Reportedly, the documents were based on entries found in a diary seized during a raid on Ispat Industries Ltd. in December 2010.

In June 2012, Singh had quit as the Federal Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises after a Himachal Pradesh court had framed charges of corruption against him.

Singh headed the steel ministry from May 2009 to January 2011 and is now campaigning for the polls to the provincial legislature in India's northern state of Himachal Pradesh.

Earlier, Himachal Pradesh state police booked Singh along with his wife in 2009 under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly misusing his official position and for criminal misconduct while he was the chief minister of the state in 1989.

Police reports suggested that Singh and his wife were charged after an audiocassette by Singh's political adversary Vijai Singh Mankotia was released in 2007.

The cassette allegedly had telephonic conversation of Singh with Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead. The cassette also contained voices of his wife and some industrialists, also identified by police, proposing to invest in the state. (ANI)

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