New Delhi: Alleging that the ruling party is becoming synonymous with corruption, BJP on Saturday charged there was ample evidence against Congress leader Virbhadra Singh for receiving money from a private steel firm and demanded an immediate probe into the matter.

"Everyday a new skeleton of corruption tumbles out of the Congress closet. The latest in this series is VBS. The then Steel Minister is suspected to have received Rs 2.28 crore illegally from a private firm... As it is an issue of quid pro quo arrangement, it needs to be investigated immediately," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.

He was referring to the seizure of diaries by the IT department from Ispat Industries in which there is an entry of a payment of Rs 2.28 crore to one VBS. BJP has alleged it refers to Virbhadra Singh.

Singh has denied the charge, saying he uses the initials VS and that he has not received any such payment.

"Here what matters is not how he (Singh) writes his initials but how the paying company recognizes him. These diaries were recovered during an Income Tax raid and have elaborate entries including the amount paid," Javadekar said.

BJP further alleged though the IT department had written to the vigilance officers of the concerned ministries, it did not follow up the issue for two years. It sought an explanation from the Finance Minister for this.

The Opposition also raised eyebrows over how Ispat Industries was sold just 21 days after the IT raid to Jindal Steel which is owned by a Congress MP.

"What is still worse for the country that Congress party makes a virtue out of corruption and presents a fallen guy as a hero.... Congress is synonymous with corruption," Javadekar said.

When contacted, Vinod Mittal, who was the promoter of Ispat Industries when the alleged payoffs were made, refused to comment saying he was not aware of the details as he was abroad.

"I am not in India... Right now I am in such a place where there is no Internet. So I cannot comment now, I have not seen the documents," Mittal said over phone.

"You can ask JSW Steel and Sajjan Jindal. They are the promoters of Ispat now," he said.

Mittal said he would return to Mumbai on Wednesday.

JSW Steel had acquired 41 percent stake in Ispat Industries in December 2010. JSW Steel later increased its stake to 46.75 percent and remains the single-largest shareholder in JSW Ispat.

In reply to an email query, a JSW spokesperson said controversy pertains to a period before Ispat was acquired by JSW.

"The period referred in your email is prior to acquisition by JSW Steel. The previous management can only clarify on this issue," the spokesperson said.

(Agencies)

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