Arch-rivals Congress and AAP found a common target in finance minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday as they tried to corner him over alleged irregularities in the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) which the BJP leader headed for over a decade.
The Congress demanded a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) to probe the matter and said the finance minister should step down in the interim, a day after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the CBI of peeping into DDCA files pertaining to Jaitley during a raid at the Delhi secretariat on Tuesday.
“Why is Jaitley ji so scared of DDCA probe? What is his role in DDCA scam?” the AAP leader tweeted on Wednesday.
Jaitley, who had a day earlier termed the allegations as “rubbish”, said he could not reply to vague accusations and called the AAP’s claims a ploy to deflect public attention.
“I can’t answer a vague allegation without any basis,” he said. “State government and the party which is in the dock for having supported corruption and having interfered in the probe in this manner cannot deflect attention.”
The developments came a day after Kejriwal alleged that a CBI raid at the Delhi secretariat on Tuesday was a bid to access files on the DDCA to protect Jaitley. The agency rejected the charge, saying it had only searched the office of a senior bureaucrat facing corruption allegations.
The Congress offensive against the finance minister comes close on the heels of his attack on the opposition party’s top leadership on Monday. The next day, Jaitley rejected Kejriwal’s allegations that his office had been raided.
“Congress demands that pending the completion of inquiry through a JPC, Arun Jaitley step down, failing which the Prime Minister should sack him,” party spokesperson and former sports minister Ajay Maken said at a press conference. “How can we expect a fair probe when Jaitely himself is the finance minister?”
The Trinamool Congress demanded a JPC but didn’t seek Jaitley’s resignation, indicating differences among opposition parties.
The fireworks come amid a Parliament logjam in which a long list of legislative agenda, including the crucial GST bill, is stuck due to daily uproar spearheaded by the Congress.
Jaitley, the government’s key negotiator with the Congress on the GST bill, had earlier attacked the party’s vice-president, Rahul Gandhi, over the disruptions.
Kejriwal hit out at Jaitley in a series of tweets. “CBI kept reading DDCA file in my office. They wud hv seized it. But after my media briefing, they left it. Not clear if they took a copy,” he wrote.
Even as they attacked Jaitley, the fissure between the Congress and AAP was apparent.
The Congress mocked Kejriwal’s protests over the CBI raid as “high-pitched drama” and asked the CM to “get down to real work to nail corruption”.
The AAP and Trinamool tried to raise the issue in the Lok Sabha while Mamata Banerjee’s party also protested in the Rajya Sabha, where Delhi’s ruling party doesn’t have a presence.
Trinamool MPs even staged a walkout to protest the CBI raids at the Delhi secretariat even as AAP lawmakers remained in their seats.