A day after his public sacking, Delhi’s former food and civil supplies minister Asim Ahmed Khan claimed he was a “victim” of the Aam Aadmi Party’s “internal politics”, identified a voice on a tape that allegedly exposed him demanding a bribe as that of a party colleague but sidestepped any question on whether the voice in the audio clip was his.
Threatening to expose big names involved in the “conspiracy”, “even if it is a councillor or a chief minister”, in the next few days, Khan said the voice of the “middleman” in the tape — played out by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal while announcing the minister’s dismissal a day ago — was that of Shakeel Malik, vice-president of AAP’s minority wing and director of the Delhi Minority Finance Corporation.
Kejriwal had at a press conference played out a part of the tape that allegedly revealed Khan negotiating a Rs 6-lakh bribe deal with an unknown builder and a middleman in exchange for allowing illegal construction on a plot in his Matia Mahal constituency.
“We received a complaint last night… and have decided to remove Asim Ahmed from the cabinet. We are referring this complaint to the CBI. Till the CBI does not complete its inquiry, Asim Ahmed will not serve as a minister,” the CM had said, adding that no one indulging in corruption would be spared, “not even my son”.
A decision on the 38-year-old leader’s party membership is to be decided after an internal probe.
At a press conference of his own in his Daryaganj home on Saturday, Khan said he had demanded a copy of the tape from AAP but was yet to receive it. “I was summoned to the CM’s office around 3.30pm (Friday). I was asked to resign, which I did. After that, I was made to sit in a room for the next two and half hours with my phone switched off. I learnt about what played out only around 6pm,” he said.
In response, AAP’s Delhi convenor Dilip Pandey said “he (Asim) is free to defend himself and he can make his stand clear before the CBI”.
“I will reveal all I went through and who all were in that room in the next few days. I am in the process of collecting evidence and I don’t want the people involved to destroy it.” He added that he “feared for his life” and was getting “anonymous calls”.
Ignoring questions on whether it was his voice on the tape, Khan said, “The person described as a middleman is not an ordinary citizen or a builder. He is Shakeel Malik. Why was only my name revealed? The fact that Shakeel’s name was not revealed smacks of a conspiracy.”
Kejriwal had refused to name the complainant for reasons of security.
Matching the drama of Kejriwal’s press meet, Khan paraded a man he identified as Javed, the owner of the plot on which the alleged illegal construction was going on. He denied having asked him for any money.
He also questioned the credentials of his replacement in the cabinet, Ballimaran MLA Imran Hussain, claiming there were several complaints against him and saying he could give details on these.