Congress members walk out of Himachal house on Virbhadra issue


Shimla : Congress legislators Thursday stalled the proceedings of the Himachal Pradesh assembly and staged a walkout over the clarification from the government about the registration of corruption cases against Steel Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh.

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Raising the issue after the question hour, Leader of Opposition Vidya Stokes asked Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal to clarify his statements to the media that he had no information about the registration of the case against Singh and his wife.

She alleged that the government is vindictive against the opposition.

Speaker Tulsi Ram, however, said the issue could be discussed later and asked the opposition to give notice for the discussion.

This agitated the Congress legislators and they staged a walkout from the assembly.

Police in Himachal Pradesh have filed corruption cases against Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh. The complaint against him is for misuse of official position and criminal misconduct when he was chief minister in 1989.

“Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh were booked Monday night by the state vigilance and anti-corruption bureau under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. They were booked under sections related to misuse of official position and criminal misconduct,” Inspector General of Police (Vigilance) S.R. Mardi said.

He said they were booked on the basis of an audio CD released by Vijai Singh Mankotia, a political rival of the Congress leader, in 2007. In the CD, Virbhadra Singh was heard referring to some monetary transactions on phone with former IAS officer Mahinder Lal, who is now dead. The CD also contained recordings of his wife, a former MP from the state’s Mandi constituency.