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Mud-caked campaign

Chandigarh, Feb. 13: The election campaign in Himachal Pradesh touched its lowest ebb today with senior BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana accusing Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh of having “illicit relationships”.

Showing pictures of Amarinder with a woman, Khurana said: “I want the Punjab chief minister to explain his relationship with the woman. Amarinder has so far not explained the allegations I have made against him.”

The pictures were over a decade old and Amarinder as well as the woman had denied that they had any relationship with each other.

A legal notice was today sent to Khurana by Surinder Singla, a senior Congress leader, asking him to either withdraw within seven days his statement that the BJP would expose “the (Punjab) chief minister’s illegitimate relationship with a Delhi-based woman”, or pay Rs 100 crore in damages.

Singla’s counsel Ravi Kant said over phone that his client, being a senior Congress leader, had every right to defend the chief minister. “Singla is a respected politician in Bathinda,” he said.

Efforts to contact Amarinder for his comments on Khurana’s reiteration of allegations today proved futile.

Khurana today read letters purported to be written by the woman’s father to then chief minister Beant Singh, accusing Amarinder of forcibly taking his daughter away. “I am only asking Amarinder whether this is true or not'” Khurana said.

Khurana said he was against making personal attacks against anybody “but the way Amarinder as chief minister has treated relatives of his Himachal counterpart Prem Kumar Dhumal in Jalandhar is not democracy. This is no kingdom. This is a democratic country.”

Khurana said Amarinder could have charged Dhumal with corruption a year ago.

“Why has he chosen to raid the properties of Dhumal’s relatives now, a month before the polls' Can Amarinder answer my allegation what was he doing with the woman in the photograph in Rajasthan on May 5, 2002' He has started this mudslinging and the BJP knows how to answer his charges,” Khurana said.

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