Going public Sunday with his allegations of irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), BJP MP Kirti Azad targeted his own party leader and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who is already under fire from the AAP government in Delhi and the Congress.
Azad released a video by Wikileaks4India and the Sun Star newspaper which purportedly show that 14 companies paid by DDCA for renovation works at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium do not exist in the addresses mentioned in the bills.
He did not name Jaitley but released a statement in which he posed 52 questions to the minister on not only his role in the DDCA but also his and his family’s alleged involvement in Hockey India.
Apart from the questions, Azad’s statement alleged that Jaitley attempted to sweep under the carpet the alleged DDCA irregularities.
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“Arun Jaitley conveniently avoided answering more than 200 letters and 500 messages about wrongdoing and swindling of DDCA money through his 14 years as president in DDCA but what has not come out from investigations is shocking… Several inquiries by ROC, SFIO, internal auditors, executive committee members, election commission appointed by sessions court and now a three-member committee of Delhi government etc have confirmed massive defalcations and round tripping of money and mismanagement,” his statement alleged.
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After Azad’s press conference, BJP came out in Jaitley’s defence. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said: “We are proud of the impeccable qualities of honesty, integrity and credibility of Arun Jaitley. The transparency and credibility with which he has lived his public life all these years and his commitment to probity is well known.”
BJP spokesman Shrikant Sharma said: “These are fake and foolish allegations that have been in the public domain for a long time and we have already rejected them. As for Mr Arun Jaitley, he ceased to have anything to do with DDCA after 2013. This gentleman had approached the UPA government against him and got an SFIO inquiry instituted that cleared Jaitleyji… BJP has nothing to do with this, nobody can question Jaitleyji’s credibility and a leader of his stature does not need a certificate of honesty from AAP, Congress or anybody else. BJP and the government stand solidly behind him.”
Meanwhile, Jaitley is set to file civil and criminal defamation cases against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas, Ashutosh, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Deepak Bajpayee. He accused them of issuing false and defamatory statements against him and his family members.
The statement which Azad released at a press conference, where he was accompanied by former Test cricketer Bishen Singh Bedi and office-bearers of DDCA, was headlined “Questions for Shri Arun Jaitley”.
Questions ranged from whether Jaitley’s election to DDCA was based on a “proxy system”, whether any of his relatives were involved in the affairs of the company 21st Century that allegedly received payments from DDCA and whether he interceded with the ministries of urban development and corporate affairs to sort out complaints against DDCA.
In one question, Azad asked Jaitley whether he was aware that an advocate “you brought into DDCA was a counsel of DDCA and yet was made a member of Company Law Board’s Lok Adalat to compound various applications of DDCA in CLB’s Lok Adalat in one day”.
Azad’s allegations were not limited to Jaitley’s role as an erstwhile cricket administrator but also extended to his and his family’s role in managing hockey in India.
In one question, Azad asked: “Is it true that your daughter and son-in-law are active members in Hockey India? How much money has been paid to them over the last five years for retainership in Hockey India, for consultancy and for being several committees of Hockey India?”
“As Finance Minister, are you aware that there is a direct conflict of interest to be actively or (in) Non Executive Advisor’s role in Hockey India where your name is used to pressurise various PSUs to give large amounts in sponsorship to a private hockey clique?”
Azad repeatedly professed his allegiance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, describing him as a “hero for his fight against corruption”. He sidestepped questions on Jaitley, admitted to a breakfast meeting with BJP president Amit Shah — in reply to a question whether his party tried to dissuade him from making the allegations — and did not deny meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi as was alleged by Jaitley in an interview in which he did not name Azad.
Asked to react to Jaitley’s claim that a BJP MP met Sonia Gandhi during the UPA rule to conspire against him, Azad said: “I have long family relations with Congress, my father was MP from the party. As MP, I meet many people everyday. The person making these allegations against me also knows many people. On that basis, do I go around making such claims against him?”