- Labeling Arun Jaitley\'s defence as a web of lies, AAP tightened the noose on the Finance Minister with five new questions.
- AAP alleged that the corporate boxes at Feroz Shah Kotla were sub-leased by 21st Century, a company close to Jaitley and his family.
- While seeking Jaitley\'s dismissal, Congress also called on Arvind Kejriwal \"to stop the blame game and get down to real work\".
The Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) was handed a major blow in November after the Delhi police and the CBI registered cases in lieu to widespread corruption and financial irregularities within the cricket body.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had formed a three-member panel to probe the allegations against the DDCA. The panel found enough evidence against the association to recommend its suspension, spoiling its chances of hosting the India vs South Africa, 4th Test at Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
However, against the popular perception, the DDCA managed to host the final Test under the supervision of Justice Mukul Mudgal following an intervention from the Delhi High Court.
But it was the anti-encroachment demolition drive in west Delhi's Shakur Basti on 14 December, that brought the BJP-AAP rift out in the open. If that was not enough, the CBI raid conducted at the office of Kejriwal's principal secretary only made matters worse.
The incident sparked a series of public attacks by the AAP supremo who targeted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley by highlighting the corruption charges against the DDCA. Kejriwal alleged that the financial irregularities at the Delhi association occurred during the 14-year reign of Jaitley as president.
The all-important DDCA file
According to Kejriwal, the CBI raid was conducted to acquire the documents relating to the inquiry conducted into the alleged financial irregularities of the DDCA. The findings of the three-member probe panel were documented in the all-important DDCA file.
The probe revealed over 20 irregularities, including those in accounting practices, for financial years 2008-09 to 2011-12 during Jaitley's tenure as president. It pointed out that major transactions, made in cash of over Rs 20,000 to directors and members, were made without the approval of the Board of Directors or the Central government.
Apart from the construction of unauthorised corporate boxes, the costs incurred during the reconstruction of Feroz Shah Kotla stadium also raised a few eyebrows. The stadium, that took nearly five years to reconstruct, was allotted a budget of Rs 24 crore which eventually led to a Rs 114-crore expenditure.
Congress seeks Jaitley's dismissal
Jumping onto the claim of Kejriwal over alleged corruption at the DDCA, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and party's Delhi chief Ajay Maken addressed the media on 17 December, and demanded the dismissal of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
The Congress leaders displayed the documents of Delhi government's probe as alleged evidence against Jaitley and called for an independent probe by a "joint parliamentary committee" to find out his role in the case.
But, instead of supporting Kejriwal's claim, the Congress took a cautious path and questioned as to why the Delhi CM "has taken no action" since last month when the report was handed to him. "Congress also calls upon Arvind Kejriwal to stop the blame game and get down to real work to nail corruption," Maken said.
DDCA jumps to Jaitley's defence
During a press conference on 17 December, DDCA vice-president Chetan Chauhan and association's treasurer Ravinder Manchanda jumped to the defence of the former president.
"Mr. Arun Jaitley does not interfere in day to day functioning of the association. He left because of party commitments, we wanted him to continue. The enquiry was done in 2012 when Mr. Jaitley (BJP) was not in power. Some other party was in power," Chauhan said.
"What AAP is showing is the findings of DDCA fact finding committee. Siphoning of money from DDCA will be heavily probed and guilty will face the music. During the tenure of Mr. Jaitley, no embezzlement has taken place," Manchanda revealed.
AAP tightens noose on Jaitley
While defending his stand on the corruption charges, Jaitley took to his personal blog on 17 December and wrote, "no personal allegation was ever made against me." In response, the AAP chief labeled his comments as a "big lie" and raised five new questions for the finance minister.
1. Pointing out a letter written to Jaitley by Kirti Azad on 13 September 2015, the senior AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh revealed that the letter highlighted the construction of illegal corporate boxes at the Kotla stadium. The corporate boxes were sub-leased by 21st Century, a company close to Jaitley and his family, for which a whopping Rs 36 crore commission was paid.
2. The AAP also questioned Jaitley for putting pressure on ONGC to pay Rs 5 crore to Hockey India. "Is it not a corrupt practice? Is it not a conflict of interest?" asked the AAP leaders.
3. Mentioning Jaitley's recent comment: "Rs 114 crore was spent on the stadium. Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) was given the money", the AAP claims to have information that only Rs 57 crore was paid to the EPIL while the payment for the other half was never made. "The findings of the DDCA's fact-finding committee has revealed that nine companies have the same registered address, email id and directors," the AAP leaders said.
AAP urged the finance minister to disclose the names of these nine companies. "Please tell us that which were these companies. Are they not fake companies? Did you take any steps? Is it not corruption? He wants to say that there were minor irregularities. Which was compounded to a fine of Rs 10 lakh. This is itself a big lie.
4. "Question is you resorted to falsehood claiming that a Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) report, that all irregularities were compounded and paid. He hid the fact that these irregularities were criminal and punishable by imprisonment. Please tell us why the Honourable High Court stayed the actions you called compoundable," AAP leaders asked.
5. On Jaitley's relations with Hockey India chief Narinder Batra, the AAP leaders said: "Hockey India and Arun Jaitley's relations, we will tell you later. How Narinder Batra's wife and daughter are involved. We will tell you later."