India Against Corruption (IAC) leader Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced an indefinite agitation to demand the resignation and arrest of Law Minister Salman Khurshid over alleged financial irregularities in his NGO even as the minister’s wife Louise rubbished the allegations and the Congress came to his defence. Kejriwal, who was arrested and detained along with 150 supporters at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Bawana on the outskirts of Delhi, was released late Friday night, but the activist and his supporters refused to leave the stadium till Saturday morning.
It’s an all-out war between activist-politician Arvind Kejriwal and Salman Khurshid now. In the face of unrelenting attack from Mr Kejriwal, who is demanding his ouster and arrest over an alleged scam in his NGO, Mr Khurshid has hit back, saying “he has nothing to hide. It’s not Kejriwal or any political opponent I need to worry about…Third rate people in India are doing third rate things… All this is being done as they want to launch their own party and they want to take over the country…We will fight tooth and nail, won’t give into these blackmailers,” the Union Minister said in London. The stinging remarks were in response to Kejriwal who has stepped up his campaign against Khurshid.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni on Saturday came to the defence of her cabinet colleague Salman Khurshid over allegations of financial bungling in a trust headed by him saying the demand for the resignation of the “upright” law minister was not fair. Soni said the charges made against Khurshid could shatter a person and television channels were running them without having known his version.
Soni said Khurshid would respond to the allegations against him on returning from his foreign visit and questioned whether it was fair to demand resignations by creating pressure through. ”Salman Khurshid, the law minister, has been representing the government outside, he is not in India. He is expected back either late tonight or tomorrow. I am told he himself has scheduled a press conference where he will naturally satisfy all questions and answer to the extent you want him to answer,” Soni told reporters in New Delhi.
Backing Khurshid, Congress on Saturday (Oct 13) rejected demands for his resignation and dismissed as “untruth” the charges of irregularities levelled against the Minister’s NGO by Arvind Kejriwal. “Untruth cannot become the basis for crucifying anybody. Till court pronounces…everyone enjoys equal protection. They are innocent till proved guilty,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters.
Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik said that Centre is not conducting an inquiry and will wait for a response of Uttar Pradesh government relating to allegations of irregularities against an NGO owned by Salman Khurshid and his wife Louise. “We are not conducting an inquiry. We had sent a letter to the organisation asking for their clarifications,” he said. “They have replied us back, saying that they have taken up the matter with the state government, requesting the state government to conduct an inquiry and to arrive at a finality of this entire thing. Now we will wait for the advice of the state government,” Wasnik said.
Congress on Saturday sought to dismiss demands for an inquiry in the wake of reports that Corporation Bank did not provide an overdraft of Rs7.94 croreto a company controlled by Robert Vadra despite its balance sheet showing it.
Chiding Manmohan Singh government for “coming out in defence” of Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today said Congress “lacks” such sensitivity in expressing solidarity with victims of terrorism. “There were some allegations against the son-in-law of a family and the entire Manmohan Singh government is fielded (to defend him). This might be some personal matter of him and in the course of time truth would come out,” Modi said without naming Vadra.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called for restricting citizens’ right to information (RTI) if it infringes upon ‘individual privacy’. Sources in the government said the Prime Minister took up the issue after Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi sought details of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s foreign travel bills. Manmohan Singh, addressing the annual convention of information commissioners on Friday, said, “Citizens’ rights to know should definitely be circumscribed if disclosure of information encroaches upon someone’s personal privacy.”