Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh Thursday filed in a local court three defamation cases against BJP leader Arun Jaitley, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and his sons, BJP MP Anurag Thakur and Arun Dhumal.
"I have filed three defamation cases under Section 499 of the Indian Penal Code against Jaitley, Dhumal, Anurag Thakur and Arun," Virbhadra Singh told reporters.
He said Jaitley and the Dhumals unleashed a malicious campaign against him and his family through the media. "Therefore, I was compelled to file defamation cases."
At a press conference in Delhi Dec 30, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley demanded a probe and action from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress into allegations of payoff by a private company to the chief minister and his parliamentarian wife Pratibha Singh.
He alleged that Virbhadra Singh accepted around Rs.1.5 crore and Rs.2.4 crore, through cheques in his and his wife's name, from Venture Energy and Technology Pvt. Ltd.
Jaitley said the company was given two extensions in a hydel power project despite defaulting.
"I am not afraid of the slanderous onslaught by Dhumal and other BJP leaders and will face them boldly. With the support and love and affection of the people of the state, I will give a befitting reply to the nefarious designs of the BJP leaders," the chief minister said.
Virbhadra Singh said the Dhumal family was getting panicky as a charge sheet containing serious charges of corruption and land scams against Dhumal, his family members, former ministers and others, is being probed.
Anurag Thakur, a Lok Sabha member from Hamirpur and administrator of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA), and Arun Dhumal are sons of two-time chief minister Dhumal.
"There is imminent involvement of Dhumal and his family in various cases. The Dhumal government went out of the way to give precious government land worth Rs.250 crore in five places to the HPCA headed by his son," Virbhadra Singh said.
The Congress leader also blamed Dhumal for indulging in illegal phone-tapping of his political opponents, his own ministers, officers and media persons during his regime. "It's a serious scam."
"Jaitley and the Dhumals have been raising insignificant personal issues relating to my income tax returns and loans in the media since the time of assembly elections (in October 2012)," he said.
On allegations against the government of favouring Venture Energy and Technology Ltd. with regard to the Sai Kothi hydro project in Chamba district, Virbhadra Singh said, "These are totally false and frivolous".
"The project was awarded in 2002 by the BJP government and given four extensions by the BJP from 2009 to 2012. The Congress government gave extension just once for 10 months and terminated it in seven and a half months," he said.
"A personal loan was taken by me and my wife from Vakamulla Chandrashekhar (promoter of Venture Energy and Technology) during July 2011 to November 2011, when there was the BJP government in state. There was no question of benefitting Chandrashekhar."
He said the loan along with interest is being repaid through cheque in installments to the loaner.
"Jaitley and the Dhumals deliberately suppressed relevant facts in their press conferences to suit their ulterior political motive," Virbhadra Singh said.