The Aam Aadmi Party trained its guns at finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday, alleging large-scale financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association that the senior BJP leader headed for over a decade.
The party called for Jaitley’s resignation, saying a number of private firms were benefitted through false billing, duplication of work, skirting around financial norms and massive fraud in the body that oversees cricket in the Capital.
AAP leaders also said opaque processes in the appointment of selectors had turned the DDCA into an “elite” body that prevented poor people from playing cricket.
The explosive revelations came two days after a controversial raid by the CBI on the office of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal – a move that the AAP said was aimed at looking at files related to DDCA fraud allegations. Jaitley and several other ministers have rubbished the charge, saying the raid was in connection with serious corruption charges against Kejriwal’s secretary, Rajendra Kumar.
“The Centre has always intervened when we brought up graft in the DDCA. Nine companies, many of whom have the same registered office and same directors, benefited from the scams. Funds were transferred without the knowledge of panels or committees. This is a case of theft and criminal breach of trust,” said party leader Raghav Chadha, demanding Jaitley’s resignation.
The party alleged massive embezzlement of funds in the construction of a DDCA stadium, saying around 60 crore rupees were unaccounted.
The DDCA has been embroiled in scam allegations for years and Kejriwal was reportedly pursuing the case after two former Test cricketers and some functionaries accused the cricket administrator of financial wrongdoing. He was apparently gathering information from diverse sources, although DDCA treasurer Ravinder Manchanda clarified that the Delhi government has no jurisdiction over the association.
A Delhi government committee last month recommended an inquiry commission to probe allegations against the DDCA and criticised the BCCI for its hands-off approach despite charges of serious irregularities against the Delhi association.
The panel said the DDCA received government funding and should be brought under the ambit of the RTI Act to ensure transparency, particularly over selection. It also wanted DDCA office-bearers to be accountable under government anti-corruption rules like public servants.
In October, the CBI initiated an inquiry against the DDCA on several charges, including the embezzlement of funds. Then president Sneh Bansal was removed over financial irregularities and Chetan Chauhan is currently the working president but bids by former cricketers – led by Bishan Singh Bedi -- to “clean” the system has failed because the DDCA allows proxy votes in its elections.
The panel recommended DDCA’s suspension, rooting for players to manage affairs in the interim. It also suggested the government bring legislation to prevent sports fraud and ensure transparent selections.
It also recommended the Supreme Court-appointed justice RM Lodha committee, due to give its recommendations for an administrative revamp of the BCCI, be asked to advice on streamlining the DDCA’s functioning as well.