The Congress on Monday sought to defend Asha Kumari, recently made in-charge of the party's affairs in Punjab, saying her sentence in a land-grab case had already been suspended by the Himachal Pradesh High Court."The substantive sentence of the applicant (Asha Kumari) is suspended," said the Himachal High Court order dated March 19, which the Congress shared with the media on Monday.The Congress also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Aam Aadmi Party of villifying its leader to score political brownie points and took digs at both parties.The Congress said Asha Kumari had nothing to do with the reported transfer of the said land and was a "victim of political vendetta unleashed by former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal"."The state Vigilance (Department) conducted an inquiry into this case on the then Chief Minister's orders in November 2001. However, the complainant was already dead by January 5, 2001. The Himachal Lokayukta too looked into the case and gave a clean chit to Asha Kumari," a Congress statement said here.
"Raja Prem Singh, elder brother of late Raja Brajendra Singh, in connivance with Prem Kumar Dhumal got a case registered against Asha Kumari in a dispute over ancestral properties of the family into which she is married," the statement said.Late Raja Brajendra Singh, the scion of the erstwhile state of Chamba, was the husband of Asha Kumari. The party asserted that the reported land transfer occured within the family in 1974 while Asha Kumari was married into the family in 1979.The Congress said that even the presiding officer of a lower court in Himachal Pradesh who dealt with the case had agreed that Asha Kumari could not have been possibly connected with the case.Answering questions from the media, Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal said Asha Kumari had been at the receiving end of a complicated land acquisition case."(BJP chief) Amit Shah is an accused in a murder case and is out on bail. Keshav Prasad Maurya (Uttar Pradesh BJP chief) is an accused in 10 cases. At least, the Congress does not appoint murder accused as party chiefs," Sibal said in a dig at the ruling BJP.He said that even the Aam Aadmi Party, which was taking a high moral ground on the issue, had no right to accuse the Congress of any wrongdoing as many of its legislators and office-bearers are facing court cases.