Saturday, Dec 13, 2003
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At a news conference here today, he said, ``It is part of a deep-rooted conspiracy hatched by some people at the behest of the BJP leader, Prem Kumar Dhumal.''
He claimed that the audio cassette was made available to select mediapersons at Una yesterday by certain BJP persons with a view to tarnishing his image. He said he had received a copy of the tape today.
The tape reportedly contains excerpts of conversations between the now suspended Himachal Pradesh Subordinate Services Selection Board (HPSSSB) Chairman, S.M. Katwal, and Mr. Singh, who was then leader of Opposition in the State Assembly.
In the conversation, Mr. Singh sought a favour from Mr. Katwal for selecting two candidates from Rampur (Shimla district) in the government services.
The tape also contains excerpts of conversations between Mr. Katwal and two Cabinet Ministers, Singhi Ram and Kuldip Kumar, who were then Congress MLAs.
Mr. Katwal was the Chairman of the Board during the previous BJP rule in the State. He was removed after the Congress came to power. A case of corruption has been registered against him by the State Vigilance Bureau.
He admitted that he had talked to Mr. Katwal on telephone twice during his tenure as leader of the Opposition. On seeking selection of the two candidates, he said: ``these two boys did come to me and I talked to Katwal but emphasised that they should be selected on merit.''
The second time, the Chief Minister said he had told Mr. Katwal that there were a lot of complaints against the selection procedure being adopted by the Board and meritorious candidates were being ignored.
``It was my duty as a representative of the people to bring this to the notice of Katwal,'' he said and added that Mr. Katwal had told him the Board was not bothered about academic records.
Mr. Singh reiterated that the tape was very cleverly doctored and edited and portions that were not convenient were deleted. He said the release of the tape came as the State Government was going to present a challan against Mr. Katwal in a Hamirpur court tomorrow or on Monday.
Meanwhile, a BJP delegation led by Dhumal and the State BJP chief, Jai Krishan Sharma, submitted a memorandum to the Governor, V.S. Kokje, demanding that the ``tape issue'' be handed over to the CBI to ensure an impartial probe.
Meanwhile, Mr. Katwal has denied having released or leaked the tape to the press. PTI
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