Shimla/New Delhi, (IANS) Less than 24 hours after his purported threat to the media over charges of income tax evasion and money laundering, Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Virbhadra Singh Wednesday took a U-turn and said he respected the media.
He also tried to justify his sources of income, saying his “entire income is from horticulture and it’s negligible from other sources”.
“I respect the media and my intention was not to hurt anybody,” Singh told reporters in Shimla.
Singh had threatened the media Tuesday evening saying “I will break the cameras” when journalists asked him about the allegations levelled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Later, the Congress apologised for his behaviour.
Dismissing the charges as “baseless”, the five-time chief minister told TV news channels during campaigning in Kullu district: “I will deal with all these issues after the election are over on Nov 4.”
Defending himself, Singh said the entire income (reflected in the income tax returns) was from orchards. “I have no other income. The income is maximum from the orchards and almost negligible from other sources,” he said.
Singh said he had filed revised income tax returns, which will be scrutinised by the income tax department. “The conjecture by anyone on this basis is baseless,” he added.
On his anger against mediapersons, Singh said: “Sometimes reporters do not wait and start asking questions suddenly. This happens here (in Kullu) also.”
He also slammed BJP leader Arun Jaitley for questioning his income.
“He has no right to access my accounts,” Singh said about Jaitley.
“If the income tax department finds any discrepancy, it would ask me. How is it Jaitley’s concern,” he asked.
He said Jaitley had become “an accuser, investigator, prosecutor and a judge in the alleged Ispat payoffs issue”.
Earlier in the day, calling it “unfortunate”, Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said in New Delhi: “If anyone is hurt, we apologise. He should not have spoken like this. But sometimes in the midst of an election campaign such things happen under mental pressure.”
The BJP said Singh must answer all questions related to money laundering against him.
Meanwhile, referring to Virbhadra Singh threatening mediapersons, Press Council of India chairperson Markandey Katju Wednesday regretted that some politicians were becoming “increasingly intolerant towards the media”.
Katju, a former judge of the Supreme Court, said Singh’s “undemocratic behaviour” Tuesday was the latest instance of politicians “not behaving in a manner which is expected of them in a democracy”.