The Congress on Monday demanded a parliamentary probe into alleged irregularities in the DDCA as well as finance minister Arun Jaitley’s resignation but he rejected the charges against him as “baseless”.
Bharatiya Janata Party MP Kirti Azad, a former cricketer, instead called for a time-bound probe into the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association’s (DDCA) affairs and claimed that the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress were only using papers/documents compiled by him on the issue.
Congress members walked out of the Lok Sabha after expressing dissatisfaction over Jaitley’s reply to the charges, which he dubbed as “wrong and baseless”. Raising the issue in the Lok Sabha after Question Hour, Congress leader KC Venugopal alleged that Jaitley was aware of the “irregularities” in the DDCA and that “he is also involved in the scam”.
“Therefore, we demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee (to probe the issue) and his resignation,” Venugopal said.
Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the Congress member’s statement was uncalled for and had personally targeted the finance minister. Jaitley, a former chairman of DDCA, responded by saying that since Delhi did not have a cricket stadium, “we (the DDCA) considered it necessary that the national capital should get a proper stadium”.
Elaborating, Jaitley said the DDCA decided to raise resources and 43 corporate boxes were created at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. Further, tickets were sold in advance for 10 years and each seat sold for Rs.1 lakh. He said the DDCA raised another Rs.35 crore by selling space for putting signage.
He said the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) offered Rs.50 crore for constructing a bigger stadium.
“By tendering process, the contract was given to Engineers India Ltd. The civil works were done for Rs.57 crore. Forty-three other works were to be done. These were predominantly done through their sub-contractor,” Jaitley said.
The minister, who was frequently interrupted by Congress members, said the stadium was built at a total cost of Rs.114 crore.
Taking a dig at the Congress, Jaitley said the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi was renovated at a cost of Rs.900 crore for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, held in the national capital during the earlier UPA government’s rule.
The minister said the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which went into the allegations concerning DDCA, did not say that the expenses were wrong. “The allegations are baseless. They are wrong,” Jaitley said.
The minister also referred to allegations made against him by Aam Aadmi Party leaders outside parliament and the defamation case filed by him. “Since this issue has acquired overtones outside the house, (appropriate) remedies have been taken,” he said.
Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Azad said while referring to Jaitley’s remarks on the SFIO clean chit that the agency had looked into only civil construction works. As for the renovation of Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium at a cost of Rs.900 crore, he said those accused of wrongdoing were already facing the music.
Azad said the Central Bureau of Investigation had issued a notice to the DDCA regarding the sports body’s affairs between 2008 and 2013 and “whatever the cases, they will come out”.
Referring to the Congress demand for a JPC probe, he said they should instead demand a time-bound inquiry.
Talking to reporters outside the house later, Azad said people would have had greater faith if there was a high court-monitored special investigation team (SIT) probe in the DDCA affairs as the CBI was under the administrative control of the central government.
Taking a swipe at Jaitley, who filed a defamation cases against AAP leaders, Azad said “the defamation case should have been filed against me”.
He said the AAP and the Congress were using papers/documents compiled by him.
Azad said a magnificent cricket stadium was built in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh at about one-third the cost of the Delhi stadium even though construction cost was more in hilly areas.
The BJP MP did not reply on AAP government’s decision to set up a commission of inquiry into DDCA functioning, saying the question should be posed to AAP spokesperson.
On Monday, the Rajya Sabha’s proceedings were also disrupted as Congress members demanded Jaitley’s resignation over alleged irregularities in the DDCA.