Union Finance minister Arun Jaitley has rejected Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) allegations of financial irregularities in Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) during his tenure as its president. AAP had alleged that large amounts were siphoned off through fake companies when Jaitely was at the helm of the DDCA.
“The bunglings had happened under direct or indirect consent of Arun Jaitley during his tenure as DDCA chief. Prime Minister Narendra Modi must ask Jaitley to resign to ensure fair probe as some of the agencies to investigate are under the Finance Ministry,” said AAP Spokesperson Raghav Chadha.
AAP, which runs the Delhi government, also alleged that an additional expenditure of Rs 90 crore was incurred in renovation of the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium against sanctioned budget of Rs 24 crore.
The allegations have come two days after the CBI raids at the office of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar in Delhi Secretariat. Kejriwal had strongly questioned the CBI raids alleging the BJP-led central government of targeting him.
Later in the day, Union minister Arun Jaitely responded to the charges levelled by AAP.
“Free speech is unquestionably a pre-eminent fundamental right, but does free speech include the right to speak only falsehood? The Delhi Chief Minister, Mr Arvind Kejriwal, seems to believe in untruth and defamation…,” he wrote on a social networking site lending his first reaction to the controversy.
The BJP too defended Jaitley asserting it “resolutely stands behind” the Union minister, terming his political record as “impeccable”.
“BJP resolutely stands behind Arun Jaitley and publicly condemns the malicious intent of the Aam Aadmi Party to deflect public attention from a corrupt officer working with Arvind Kejriwal,” HRD minister Smriti Irani said.
“No incident of fraud has been noticed during the course of investigation,” she added.
Earlier, claiming an ‘expose’ in their press conference, AAP leaders cited the reports of Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), DDCA’s internal probe committee and a Delhi Government-appointed inquiry panel, accusing Arun Jaitley of giving “direct and indirect” consent to “massive corruption” in the cricket body.
“Payments were made to five companies whose registered addresses were same and were headed by same director. There was duplication of funds and fictitious companies were paid for work they never did,” alleged AAP spokesperson Raghav Chadha.
Sitting BJP MP and former cricketer Kirti Azad too had been seeking investigation into the serious allegations, added Raghav Chadha.
The principal opposition party Congress too took on the Union Finance minister with senior leader Digvijay Singh demanding that a Joint Parliamentary Committee should go into the matter. “If you want to discuss the role of Arun Jaitley in DDCA then ask Kirti Azad as to how many scams there were in DDCA,” Digvijay Singh said outside Parliament.
On its part, the DDCA again strongly refuted AAP’s allegations of financial irregularities by Arun Jaitley, dubbing them as “completely baseless and without any substance”.
“No embezzlement took place during Jaitley’s tenure. You can check SFIO report,” DDCA Working president Chetan Chauhan said.
“The cost of building stadium is Rs 114 crore. Initially, the contract given to EPIL was of 27 crore for one block in ground floor. But when we made three storeyed we realised capacity will increase to 45,000. Costs escalated to Rs 57.20 crore for initial construction. Then other additions made it Rs 114 crore which I wrongly said Rs 141 crore yesterday. I can provide the break-up,” he added.
(With inputs from the PTI)