Finance Minister Arun Jaitley dismissed the Opposition’s charges against him on irregularities in Delhi’s cricket body DDCA, calling them “baseless” and “completely wrong”. He hit back at the Congress in the Lok Sabha Monday, saying while two Delhi stadiums were renovated at Rs 900 crore and Rs 600 crore under the UPA regime, the DDCA constructed a brand new stadium at just Rs 114 crore.
“I just want to say this entire charge is baseless and and completely wrong,” Jaitley said replying to charges levelled by Congress MP K C Venugopal. The irregularities alleged by Venugopal included a Rs 90 crore cost escalation in the rebuilding of Feroz Shah Kotla and that the “DDCA paid Rs 16,000 for laptop per day, Rs 3,000 for printer per day and Rs 5,000 for pooja ki thali as rent”.
Telling the Opposition that “facts will be extremely inconvenient”, Jaitley said, “A stadium having a capacity of 42,000 was made for a total sum of Rs 114 crore. When their party was in power, the renovation of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium was done at Rs 900 crore. When the Congress party was in power, the renovation of Dhyanchand National Stadium — with a capacity of 14,000 — was done at Rs 600 crore. Here, a brand new stadium got made at just Rs 114 crore and they think that this is wrong.”
He said the Serious Fraud Investigation Office had not said in its report that “incorrect expenditure has been made”. “SFIO had accepted this expenditure and has not given any finding on this subject.” Stating “Delhi did not have a cricket stadium” but a “maidan”, he said, “The BCCI used to give only Rs 4 crore as infrastructure subsidy. So, we had to raise money…. First, we created 43 corporate boxes… in advance, sold the tickets of those boxes for 10 years so that we could get some money. Each seat was sold for Rs 1 lakh … each box had approximately 30 seats.”
He that the “signage in the stadium was sold at Tata end and ITC end to different corporates” and “we managed to raise about Rs 35 crore”. “So, we intended to create two small blocks of ground floor and first floor… but by that time BCCI started earning money and said they could give infrastructure subsidy up to Rs 50 crore. So, we decided to rebuild the whole stadium,” he added.
In the Rajya Sabha, where he was targeted by the Congress’s Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jaitley said, “Please waive all rules and ask the Leader of the Opposition to start a discussion… I am not going to live by these vague statements. Let him make any specific charge. I don’t need any notice. I will answer it right now.”