Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley hit out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday, accusing him of spreading ‘falsehoods’ against him, two days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleged that Jaitley was involved in a scandal linked to Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) of which he was earlier a president.
“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, delivered in a language that borders on hysteria,” said Jaitley in a Facebook post.
“Finding himself (Kejriwal) acting as a shield to cover an officer under investigation, the Delhi Chief Minister has attempted to focus attention on me. He questioned the purpose of the search and tried to divert attention by linking it to the Delhi Cricket body rather than the alleged corruption of this official,” Jailtley said.
Jaitley said he has not been connected with DDCA since 2013, and had been writing to various governmental bodies with regard to the city’s cricket affairs in capacity of a Member of Parliament.
“No personal allegation was ever made against me nor did I ever feel the need of contradicting it. There are fake allegations such as escalation of cost of construction of a stadium. When work expands, cost escalations are integral. A brand new 42,000 capacity world class stadium was constructed by the EPIL, a public sector body at a total cost of around Rs 1,140 million,” Jaitley explained in his post.
‘Modi must ask Jaitley to resign’
Earlier in the day, AAP, quoting from reports of Serious Fraud Investigation Office, accused Jaitley of giving “direct and indirect” consent to “massive corruption” in the cricket body.
Party spokesman Raghav Chadha said: “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 competent agencies to investigate them are under the finance ministry.”
He alleged an additional expenditure of Rs 90o million (over $13 million) was incurred for renovating the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium against the sanctioned budget of Rs 24o million (over $3 million) and that fake companies were set up by DDCA office bearers to siphon off money.
“Payments were made to five companies whose registered addresses were the same and were headed by the same director. There was duplication of funds and fictitious companies were paid for work they never did,” said Chadha.
BJP parliamentarian and former cricketer Kirti Azad had been seeking investigation into the serious allegations and a number of inquiry panels have found gross misappropriation of funds in DDCA, he said. “The DDCA was a den of corruption under Jaitley.”