Chaos in Himachal assembly on 'fresh revelations' against CM

Virbhadra-Singh-hp-CM Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh | PTI

The Himachal Pradesh assembly witnessed pandemonium on Tuesday with the opposition BJP demanding that Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh respond to media reports on finalisation of a CBI chargesheet against him and staging a walk-out from the house.

Virbhadra Singh, on the other hand, accused Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and former Himachal chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal of "hatching a political conspiracy" against him in the ongoing investigations in the disproportionate assets case against him.

The Enforcement Directorate had allegedly found that Virbhadra Singh had accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore in his name and in the name of his family members, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income, during his term as union steel minister from 2009 to 2011.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is also investigating the case. Media reports on Tuesday put the figure at around Rs 10 crore.

The chief minister lost his cool when BJP member Maheshwar Singh referred to media reports that the CBI had finalised its chargesheet in the disproportionate assets case against Virbhadra and his family.

"I am not scared of such charges. These are politically motivated. I will not be cowed down. I am being harassed politically. This is my personal issue," Virbhadra Singh said.

He said Jaitley, Dhumal and his two sons—Anurag Thakur, MP from Hamirpur, and Arun Dhumal— had unleashed a "malicious" campaign to tarnish his image.

The octogenarian chief minister, at the helm of the state for the sixth time, said Prem Kumar Dhumal, during his two terms as chief minister, had got charges framed against him (Virbhadra Singh).

"I was honourably acquitted by the courts," he said.

On the ongoing probes against him, the chief minister said, "Three agencies—the CBI, the ED and the IT (Income Tax)—are investigating one case. If this is not witch-hunting, what is?"

Virbhadra Singh said he had full faith in the law of the land. "I will face (the cases) and fight it out. In the end, truth will prevail," he said.

After the chief minister made his assertions, the assembly witnessed sloganeering and ruckus as the BJP demanded a debate on the "fresh revelations" against Virbhadra Singh.

When Speaker B.B.L. Butail disallowed the demand, agitated BJP legislators walked out from the assembly.

The BJP members returned to the house after a few minutes and demanded a debate on the issue.

The speaker again disallowed their plea and continued with the proceedings.

Not satisfied, an angry BJP member Ravinder Ravi asked the speaker to allow the opposition to raise the issue of the chargesheet against the chief minister.

An agitated Ravi allegedly broke a mike in the house. The entire BJP lawmakers rushed near the Speaker's podium and started shouting slogans.

However, Speaker Butail continued with the proceedings amid the pandemonium.

Before adjourning the house for the day, the speaker said Ravi's action amounted to "contempt of the house".

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