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Himachal govt orders probe into BJP leader Dhumal’s assets

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Shimla: The Congress government in Himachal Pradesh on Friday ordered a vigilance probe into the charge that BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal and his family amassed assets disproportionate to their known sources of income, an official said.

“The government has ordered an inquiry into the charge on the acquisition of properties by Dhumal during his two stints as chief minister of Himachal. It will be conducted by the vigilance and anti-corruption bureau,” a senior police official, requesting anonymity, said.

He said the investigating agency would soon send a questionnaire to Dhumal and his sons, including the member of parliament Anurag Thakur, to seek their responses to the allegations.

In August, Dhumal had demanded a probe and action from Prime Minister Narendra Modi into the charge that he and his family amassed assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

In a letter, provided to the media by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, Dhumal said the Congress government had unleashed a malicious campaign against him and his family since it came to power (in December 2012).

“Like on previous occasions, a list of assets allegedly owned by my family and me has been sent to the state additional director general of vigilance. The complaint is without any affidavit,” said the letter dated August 7.

On the basis of this list, the chief minister (Virbhadra Singh) and the vigilance officials have been conducting a misinformation campaign against him, said Dhumal.

Asking the prime minister to secure an affidavit from the complainant, Dhumal said an inquiry either by a judge of the Supreme Court or by the CBI should be conducted into the allegations.

Dhumal’s elder son Anurag Thakur is secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India and a three-time MP from Hamirpur.

His youngest son Arun Dhumal is vice-president of the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association.

The former chief minister has said similar allegations were levelled against him by the Congress during the 2003 assembly elections too.

(With inputs from agencies)

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India Begins Its Election Season With Five States

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh.

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India, elections, vietnam
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the gathering during the 'Global Mobility Summit' in New Delhi, India, VOA

India began on Monday the first of five state elections to be held in coming weeks, important tests for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he plots a course that he hopes will ensure him victory in a general election due by May.

Voters in the central state of Chhattisgarh went to the polls on Monday to elect representatives for 18 of the state assembly’s 90 seats in a staggered poll complicated by logistical problems and left-wing guerrillas.

The state of about 26 million people has been ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2003, and he will be hoping to hold on to power.

India, elections
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“Some unholy people have handed guns to children who should have pens in their hands,” Modi told a rally in the state on Friday, referring to the rag-tag guerrillas battling government forces from forest hideouts. “They’ve finished the lives of our tribal children.”

Hundreds of election workers had to be flown in to remote polling stations by helicopter because of the danger posed by the rebels.

Modi called for voters to back his BJP and its vision of “development for all.”

The final phase of voting in Chhattisgarh, which is known for its coal, iron ore and bauxite reserves, will be on Nov. 20.

India,India, elections
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents as he accuses Narendra Modi’s government of buying 36 Rafale fighter jets from France’s Dassault at a highly inflated price, in New Delhi, India. VOA

The BJP was the preference of about 43 percent of voters in Chhattisgarh, 7 percentage points ahead of the main opposition Congress party, according to a survey released last week by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Modi’s other big tests will be in the neighboring central state of Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP is slightly ahead of Congress, according to polls, and in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, where Congress is expected to emerge victorious.

A good performance by the BJP in the elections would help it deflect growing criticism over unemployment and a crisis in the countryside over falling farm prices and wages.

India, elections
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Elections will also be held for assemblies in Telangana in the south and Mizoram in the northeast.

The BJP has sent top leaders to campaign in Chhattisgarh, including Yogi Adityanath, a firebrand Hindu priest and the BJP chief minister in Uttar Pradesh state.

Also Read: PM Narendra Modi Announces Easier Access to Credit

Adityanath has been appealing to the BJP’s Hindu-nationalist base and on Sunday accused the opposition of blocking construction of a temple for Hindu god Ram on a disputed site in Uttar Pradesh.

The destruction of a mosque on the site by a Hindu mob in 1992 sparked deadly riots across the country. (VOA)