New Delhi : The AAP and the BJP were both firing on all cylinders on Thursday. The two sides went hammer and tongs at each other with the AAP seeking Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s resignation for ‘massive corruption’ in Delhi’s cricket body, the DDCA, and the latter accusing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of spreading “untruth and falsehood”. It was a day of allegations and rebuttals: Kejriwal — who took on Jaitley two days after accusing the CBI of searching his room while targeting his principal secretary Rajendra Kumar, a charge denied by the CBI — said huge amounts of money were involved in alleged wrongdoing in the DDCA. Jaitley hit back saying it was a propaganda ploy of the Delhi Chief Minister to deflect attention when he himself was in the “dock”.
The Finance Minister broke his silence by writing a detailed blog and addressing the media.”Free speech is unquestionably a pre-eminent fundamental right, but does free speech include the right to speak only falsehood? Kejriwal seems to believe in untruth and defamation, delivered in a language that borders on hysteria,” he said in a Facebook post.
The provocation came with AAP leaders hurling a string of charges against Jaitley at a press conference. The thrust of the allegations was that there was huge financial bungling in DDCA during Jaitley’s tenure and large amounts were siphoned off through fake companies. The AAP leaders, quoting from reports of Serious Fraud Investigation Office, DDCA’s internal probe committee and a Delhi Government-appointed inquiry panel, accused Jaitley of giving “direct and indirect” consent to “massive corruption” in the cricket body.
“A free and fair probe cannot be conducted as long as Jaitley remains in the post,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh asserted. “So he should be removed.” Kejriwal insisted that the CBI officials had searched his room, too, and read the file related to the probe report on the DDCA.
Jaitley harped on his own impeccable credentials and claimed he had little to do with cricket administration since he had relinquished charge of the DDCA. “I left cricket administration in 2013. By referring to some facts of 2014 and 2015, he (Kejriwal) can’t drag me into this unsavoury controversy.”
On the defensive for once, the Finance Minister said he felt the need to speak out in order to counter “any unsubstantiated non-specific allegations” and made an oblique reference to a Member of Parliament (Kirti Azad) of the BJP who has been running a tirade in this regard.
He also claimed that the UPA government had referred the matter to the Serious Fraud Investigation Office which had investigated the MP’s complaints over a period of time and submitted a detailed report on March 21, 2013. “The report concluded in relation to the DDCA that there were certain irregularities/non-compliance or technical violations, but no fraud (was) noticed as alleged,” he said quoting from the report.
The BJP fielded HRD Minister Smriti Irani and Ravi Shankar Prasad to say that the party “resolutely stands behind” the finance minister who is a ‘man of probity’ and has an ‘impeccable’ political record. The DDCA also held a press conference to strongly defend Jaitley. Kejriwal, insisting on having the last word, said Jaitley’s assertion that AAP’s allegations against him were “unsubstantiated and non-specific” could not be treated as “gospel truth” as the charges against him were “very very serious”. “Can Jaitley ji’s denial in press be taken as gospel truth? There are very serious allegations against him. Why is he running away from investigation? If Jaitley ji is let off without investigation on the basis of his press denial, then should all coal and 2G accused also be similarly let off?” Kejriwal asked in a series of tweets.
If Jaitley ji were let off without investigations on basis of his press denial, then should all coal and 2G accused also be similarly let off? ARVIND KEJRIWAL..
The Delhi Chief Minister, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, seems to believe in untruth and defamation, delivered in a language that borders on hysteria ARUN JAITLEY..
Bedi jumps in the fray
It was a case of more the merrier as outspoken former cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi jumped into the fray and demanded to know that if all was hunky-dory in the DDCA, “then why did the court order the fourth Test (between India and South Africa to be) administered by Justice Mudgal? Will someone please educate me?” Kejriwal latched on to Bedi’s remark and re-tweeted: “Good point.”
Bedi, as if on cue, went on: “Also, if the DDCA house was in order and not mired in corruption, then why did BCCI stop all payment to the DDCA and why was the incumbent president of the DDCA sacked?” Kejriwal again re-tweeted: “Agree.” Commenting on reports that the BJP had put a gag on its MP and former cricketer Kirti Azad, who has been campaigning against alleged corruption in the DDCA for years, the Delhi chief minister asked: “Is this true? Why is BJP trying to cover up Jaitley’s corruption?”
Kirti Azad denies he is ‘gagged’
The BJP on Friday reached out to its MP Kirti Azad, a known detractor of Arun Jaitley, but an unfazed Azad said he will hold a press conference on Sunday against the “corruption in the DDCA”, an issued raked up by the AAP and the Congress to target the Finance Minister.”My fight is against corruption. I will continue with it,” Azad said.
His assertion came after BJP general secretary Ramlal called him earlier in the day for a meeting, apparently to dissuade him from attacking Jaitley. Rejecting suggestions that the party leadership has “gagged” him, the Darbhanga MP tweeted, “Don’t go by rumours that I have been gagged. My fight is against corruption in sports and it shall continue.” Azad has been a long critic of Jaitley’s stewardship of DDCA, alleging financial irregularities during his term.