Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister and senior Congress leader Virbhadra Singh on Wednesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of targeting him as it is losing ground in the poll-bound state.
"BJP is targeting me as it is losing ground in Himachal Pradesh, where assembly polls are round the corner." Singh said while addressing a press conference in Shimla.
After issuing an apology for his tirade against the media, the senior Congress leader denied all allegations of corruption levelled against him, saying that all his income comes from agriculture and horticulture.
"I categorically deny all charges against me. I have not forged any document or faked my I-T returns," he said, adding, "I have given full details to the I-T department about my agricultural activities and land holdings."
Singh said the I-T department can question him if it notices any discrepancy in his I-T returns. "I have been a regular I-T payer and never evaded paying taxes," he said.
"I respect the media. I apologise to media personnel for my irresponsible behaviour. They are just doing their jobs," Singh said.
Earlier in the day, Singh lost his cool and abused the media, when he was questioned on the corruption allegations against him.
"I will break your cameras. Don't you have any work? The allegations are wrong and baseless," Singh said in response to Tuesday's expose by the BJP.
Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Tuesday had alleged that Singh had altered his income tax account books from 2008 onwards to show a forged, back-dated contract and a highly inflated income of nearly 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.
The 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, an LIC agent, to replace the earlier contract. The amount in the contract with Chauhan adds up to around Rs 6.5 crore over three years.
Senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that Virbhadra Singh had proved Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrong with his corrupt ways.
"While Manmohanji has said that money doesn't grow on trees, Virbhadra Singh has proved that money grows on trees, and that too, on apple trees," said Naqvi.
"And, attacking the media will not help him escape the allegations. Whatever the allegations, they are coming out and is a serious matter," he added.
Samajwadi Party leader Kamal Farooqi described the attack on the media as very unfortunate.
"It is unfortunate that the Congress leaders are behaving like this. First, we saw Salman Khurshid (Union law minister behaving like this in New Delhi and Farukhabad), and now, Virbhadra Singh. One should not have behaved like this with the media. Especially for the person who is projecting himself as the chief minister. If there is corruption on his part, it will come out," said Farooqi.
"If he is not really honest, then he should not become the president of the party in Himachal Pradesh, and he should give answers," Farooqi added.
The BJP has demanded an investigation by a Special Investigation Team in the matter, saying that it could not trust the Central Bureau of Investigation to do a good job, as it had botched many cases of corruption in the past and had a poor track record.