Three HP ministers join issue against Virbhadra Singh

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Shimla, May 13 (UNI) Three ministers in the BJP Government today lashed out at former chief minister Virbhadra Singh's statement yesterday accusing Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal of nepotism and said Mr Singh was ''spreading canards to draw political mileage in the May 22 Hamirpur Parliamentary byelections''.

''During his own tenure as state chief minister, Mr Singh had sought ticket for his wife Pratibha Singh and helped former IPH minister Kaul Singh Thakur's daughter get elected to the Zila Parishad of Mandi district,'' Horticulture Minister Narinder Bragta, Public Works Minister Gulab Singh Thakur and Civil Supplies Minister Ramesh Dhawala said in a release here.

Terming the propaganda launched by Mr Singh against the Chief Minister and his family as ''absolutely unfounded and misleading'', they said he was merely trying to draw political mileage during the May 22 byelections.

Mr Singh had a tendency to mislead the public by raising irrelevant issues as he lacked a relevant agenda to attract the voters, they added.

Referring to the nomination of Neeraj Bharati from Guler constituency by the Congress, they said he was only given ticket by the party after his father Chander Kumar was elected to the Parliament from the Kangra Parlimentary seat.

The ministers said there was nothing wrong in the nomination of Mr Dhumal's wife as the vice president of the Red Cross society in place of Mrs Singh and added that this was strictly as per the age- old norms and conventions of the society.

As far as fielding of the Chief Minister's son Anurag Thakur from the Hamirpur constituency was concerned, he was active in politics for several years now and was the unanimous choice of the party, they added.

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