Oct 24, 2012 at 09:21pm IST

Virbhadra Singh apologises for threatening mediapersons, says he respects the press

New Delhi: The Congress's chief ministerial candidate for Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh, on Wednesday apologised for threatening mediapersons earlier in the day, explaining that he lost his cool amidst the flurry of questions from the press. Virbhadra had threatened to break the cameras of the mediapersons, when questioned about the allegations of corruption against him.

Apologising, Virbhadra said, "I respect the media and the press. They are doing their job. I am sorry if someone feels offended." Virbhadra then proceeded to attack the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party saying that the party was losing ground in the state and hence, trying to divert attention by levelling corruption allegations against him.

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"All allegations against me are wrong," he said. "I strongly deny all the charges against me. This is character assassination. I will file a defamation case. I can tolerate anything but not false allegations of corruption against me," he added. He further mentioned that he had given full account of his financial records to the I-T department and that if it found any discrepancies, it could ask him.

BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Tuesday had alleged that Singh altered his income tax account books from 2008 onwards to show a forged, back-dated contract and a highly inflated income of around Rs 6.5 crore. Singh had recently come under the scanner following allegations that he had received payments from a steel company which had come to light after raids were conducted on the firm in 2010.

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BJP's attack relates to a contract reportedly signed by Singh with one Vishambar Das giving his orchard for an annual payment of Rs 10.5 lakh. The party said when the diaries of the steel company seized during the raid came out in the open, Singh entered into a back-dated contract with one Anand Chauhan to replace the earlier contract. The amount in the contract with Chauhan adds upto around Rs 6.5 crore over three years.

"This is a case of bribery, conversion of bribe money through money-laundering into real income, forgery by back-dating an agreement," Jaitley said, maintaining that this was not just a case of tax evasion.

(With additional information from PTI)