A raging row over alleged irregularities in Delhi’s cricket body rocked Parliament on Monday with both houses being repeatedly stalled over raucous Opposition demands for a time-bound court-monitored probe into the case.
Led by party president Sonia Gandhi, the Congress staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha while the upper House was repeatedly adjourned as opposition members shouted slogans.
Early on in the proceedings, Finance minister Arun Jaitley said he was ready to reply to all matters over the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA), urging the Congress to ask for an immediate discussion on the matter.
“I am not going to live by any vague statements. If they (the Opposition) have a single statement, let him (Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad) make it right now. I will answer it,” he said in the Rajya Sabha.
BJP parliamentarian Kirti Azad, who has also levelled corruption allegations against the DDCA, was seen backing a Congress demand for a time-bound probe into the case by a court-monitored special investigation team.
But Parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu shot down such a demand, telling reporters, “The government has nothing to do with the DDCA controversy.”
Amid a ruckus by opposition parties in Parliament, Jaitley also hit out at the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party. He said as Delhi didn’t have a cricket stadium, “We (the DDCA) considered it necessary that the national capital should get a proper stadium”. The stadium is at the centre of the controversy, with the AAP alleging the construction repeatedly overshot estimates and the R114 crore final budget was inflated to benefit private parties.
But Jaitley rubbished these charges, saying the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which went into the allegations, did not say the expenses were wrong. He also took a dig at the Congress, saying the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi was renovated at a cost of Rs 900 crore for the 2010 Commonwealth Games during the erstwhile UPA government’s rule.
At a press conference on Monday, Congress spokesman PL Punia demanded a probe by a joint parliamentary committee and also asked for the resignation of Jaitley, who headed the DDCA for about a decade. Most of the allegations regarding the DDCA belong to a period after he had quit the cricket body.
Earlier in the day, responding to a query from the media about BJP MP Kirti Azad’s reported meeting with her that had led to the SFIO probe, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said, “Is Sonia Gandhi responsible for everything?”
On Friday, the Congress president had sought the views of party MPs on whether the party should raise the DDCA issue in Parliament. All the leaders present had raised their hands in favour of raising the issue. On Monday, though, these leaders appeared to be divided with a section of them pointed out that raising the DDCA issue would run contrary to their stand at an all-party meeting last week to help the government pass some bills in the remaining three days of the Winter session.
Finally, they went with Friday’s decision as wished for by Gandhi. A section of Congress leaders are also learnt to be reluctant to attack the finance minister over this as the SFIO had given him a clean chit during the last UPA regime.