Shimla: Admitting that corruption has spread in Bharatiya Janata Party ranks, senior party leader and former Himachal Pradesh chief minister Shanta Kumar on Saturday said that the party was trying to fix the problem.

"Corruption has spread its tentacles in the BJP and we have taken effective steps to curb it. We believe in introspection," Shanta Kumar told reporters.

The BJP leader said that corruption has severely gripped the Congress. "The elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat are a referendum on corruption," he said.

On corruption charges against party president Nitin Gadkari, he said: "He (Gadkari) has already offered his business dealings to be probed. Let the (central) government order an inquiry by an independent agency - not a government agency."

However, in the same breath, he added that the government should also "conduct a comprehensive inquiry" into allotment of coal blocks, Commonwealth Games and business dealings of UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra.

Shanta Kumar blamed the Congress for raking up the issue of Gadkari's business dealings. "It's just a cover up exercise to divert the attention of the public from Vadra's case (corruption charges in land deals)." The former chief minister said that "all those found guilty should be punished".

Shanta Kumar was among BJP leaders who spoke up after the conviction of former party president Bangaru Laxman last April.

"If the party had acted (to oust Laxman from the BJP) at that time, it would not have to face such an embarrassing situation today," was his first reaction soon after the conviction of Laxman.

The former BJP chief was caught on camera in 2001 receiving Rs. 1,00,000 in cash from a journalist posing as an arms dealer.

Shanta Kumar has stayed away from the state party meetings for more than three years, saying that the Prem Kumar Dhumal-led government was not tough enough against corruption and nepotism.


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