It took an intervention by Sonia Gandhi for the Congress to find its voice in Parliament on alleged irregularities in Delhi’s cricket body the DDCA, five days after it had targeted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley demanding his resignation and a parliamentary probe.
After its initial attack following CBI raids on the office of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s principal secretary, the Congress suddenly went quiet. While most MPs were in favour of raising it in Parliament, party sources now say, there was lack of unanimity among parliamentary leaders until last week. Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad had made it clear the party’s “plate is already full”.
On Monday morning, when parliamentary leaders met in the presence of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, many MPs argued the controversy has turned serious after Kirti Azad’s revelations and the Congress should seize the opportunity. The majority view was that the party should not let the House function in the morning and seek the finance minister’s resignation, which Sonia endorsed. Sources quoted her as saying she believes there is “clarity” and nobody has any interventions. The message was clear.
Congress MPs raised the issue in both Houses and demanded Jaitley’s resignation. Jaitley dared them to a discussion and promised he would reply to any specific statement.
At a press conference later, the Congress demanded a court-monitored CBI probe and argued the charges are “far from being ‘political’ in nature and speak of gross and blatant financial irregularity, disregard of provisions of rules and law and wilful manipulation of procedures for financial gains”.
“In typical subterfuge and convoluted manner Jaitley tried to mislead Parliament when he said the SFIO (Serious Frauds Investigation Office) had not found him guilty of anything. The observations of SFIO… point towards definite culpability,” senior leader P L Punia told reporters. “Jaitley quoted from the SFIO report in his blog… He conveniently does not mention that the same report said, ‘The DDCA has contravened section 211 of the Companies Act i.e. mandatory disclosure of accounts by a non-profit company,’ and ‘DDCA has violated sections 209, 303 and 150 and not maintained accounts of expenditure and income,’,” Punia said.
The CPI(M) too appeared to suggest the minister should resign going by his party’s “own yardsticks”. “These are allegations that merit an inquiry,” CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said. Asked if Jaitley should resign, he said, “If the BJP adhere to their own yardsticks which they had articulated earlier, then all of us know what should follow.”