New Delhi: The AAP and the BJP were locked in a bitter war on Thursday, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seeking Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s resignation for corruption and the latter accusing the AAP leader of spreading “untruth and falsehood”.
Continuing its attack on Jaitley over alleged corruption when he headed Delhi’s cricket association, Kejriwal said Jaitley must resign or should be sacked. The BJP and the central government rejected the demand.
Responding to Jaitley’s defence of himself, Kejriwal asked: “Can Jaitley’s denial be taken as gospel truth? Very serious allegations against him. Why is he running away from investigations?
“If Jaitley were (to be) let off without investigations on (the) basis of his press denial, then should all coal and 2G (scandal) accused also be similarly let off?”
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 refuted all this, saying Kejriwal believed in “untruth and only falsehood”.
“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,” the BJP veteran said in a Facebook post.
Jaitley denied corruption charges levelled against him by the AAP and also the Congress regarding the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), which he headed for years.
“It is a part of propaganda technique to deflect attention when you yourselves are in the dock. Finding himself acting as a shield to cover an officer under investigation, the Delhi chief minister has attempted to focus attention on me,” Jaitley said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister and BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu said: “There is no question of the resignation of Jaitley. They (AAP) are playing their political cards. This is no issue.”
Union minister Smriti Irani said: “Political hysteria is being created to deflect attention from a corrupt officer. AAP has made false allegations.”
Jaitley added: “I left cricket administration in 2013. By referring to some facts of 2014 and 2015, he (Kejriwal) can’t drag me in.”
Earlier, at a press conference, AAP leaders hurled a string of charges against Jaitley.
“A free and fair probe cannot be done as long as Jaitley remains in the post,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh said. “So he should be removed.”
The AAP allegations — an elaboration of what it spoke about a day earlier — came two days after the CBI raided the office of the principal secretary to Kejriwal on charges of corruption.
Kejriwal insisted that the CBI officials had searched his room too and read the file related to the probe report on the DDCA he had ordered. The CBI denied entering his room.
In a related development, former cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi 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, who re-tweeted Bedi’s remark, said: “Good point.”
Bedi went on: “Also, if the DDCA house was in order with no corruption, then why did BCCI stop all payment to DDCA and why was incumbent president of DDCA sacked?” Kejriwal again re-tweeted and said: “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?