Under ED glare, HP CM seeks details about rival's wealth

Under ED glare, HP CM seeks details about rival's wealth

 As the Enforcement Directorate goes after Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in a disproportionate assets case, his government is learnt to have sought a scrutiny of the properties of his rival, former chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Politics in the hill state is expected to get bitter ahead of elections later this year. Opponents say BJP leader Dhumal owns properties across the country, including in Punjab. A source told Deccan Herald the Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh government's Vigilance Bureau had shot off a letter seeking details from Punjab about properties owned by Dhumal and his son Anurag Thakur in Jalandhar and elsewhere. Thakur is a BJP MP from Hamirpur, and a former president of the BCCI.

According to the source, the Congress government has told the vigilance authorities to gather details and assess the properties of Dhumal’s family over the next three months.

Virbhadra and his family are facing the heat from the CBI and the ED. If the Vigilance Bureau finds anything incriminating against Dhumal, Virbhadra may attempt to dilute the charges against himself, at least through political rhetoric, by going all out against the BJP leader.

After the CBI filed a chargesheet against Virbhadra and others in a disproportionate assets case, the ED on Monday attached a posh farm house in New Delhi allegedly belonging to his family.

The Delhi High Court had earlier dismissed the plea by Virbhadra and his wife, seeking to quash an FIR registered by the CBI against them in September 2016, under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The ED has alleged the property in the national capital was bought with funds routed through shell companies. Virbhadra and the seven other accused are charged with amassing wealth between May 2009 and June 2012 when he was a union minister.

Dhumal is being probed on the basis of a complaint made towards the fag end of 2015. Dhumal had then urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order a probe into the charges against him, saying they were malicious and motivated by vendetta.

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