Himachal ministers repose faith in CM, reject demand for his resignation

Shimla, July 11 (IANS) An emergency meeting of the Himachal Pradesh council of ministers held here on Monday expressed solidarity with beleaguered Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, facing allegations of money laundering, and rejected demands for his resignation.

A resolution passed at the 20-minute meeting reposed full faith in Virbhadra’s leadership, a cabinet minister told IANS.

There was no question of the Chief Minister’s resignation and the Congress stood united behind him, the council of ministers said.

The meeting comes in the wake of Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) agent Anand Chauhan’s arrest on Friday by the Enforcement Directorate from Chandigarh under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

Chauhan is accused of investing Virbhadra Singh’s “tainted” money of Rs.5 crore in LIC policies purchased in Virbhadra Singh’s name and those of his family members, including wife Pratibha Singh.

Except Mukesh Agnihotri and Kaul Singh, nine other ministers were present at the meeting, at the end of which the Chief Minister left for a two-day Bilaspur tour.

“We stand behind Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh. Virbhadra Singh will become the Chief Minister for the seventh term too,” senior cabinet minister Vidya Stokes told reporters after the meeting.

The meeting was told that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s clamour for Virbhadra’s resignation was not only absurd but also exposed its utter disregard for the rule of law, a government statement said.

“Instead of showing respect and trust in the law and justice system of the country, some BJP leaders, having no popular support, seek to circumvent the legal process to dislodge a democratically elected popular Chief Minister,” it added.

The cases in question pertain merely to financial returns and despite the Income Tax Department being seized of the matter, the cases were investigated by three different agencies — the Income Tax Department, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate — with the sole objective of harassing the Chief Minister, which is highly condemnable, the statement said.

The attempts to subvert the legal process and destabilise a popular democratically elected government were condemnable, it said.

The ED reportedly 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 tenure as the Union Steel Minister from 2009 to 2011.

Last month, Virbhadra Singh was summoned twice and he allegedly “failed to explain the evidences” against him during CBI questioning in New Delhi in the disproportionate wealth case.



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