The Aam Aadmi Party on Friday kept up the heat on finance minister Arun Jaitley, accusing him of pressuring state-run oil explorer, ONGC, to pay Rs 5 crore to Hockey India and also helping a friend benefit from sub-leasing coveted spectators’ boxes at a Delhi stadium.
Calling Jaitley “a master of half-truths and beautiful lies” at a press conference, AAP leader Ashutosh cited a letter written by former cricketer and BJP member Kirti Azad addressed to Jaitley on September 13 this year, saying illegal corporate boxes were constructed at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
The BJP hit back, saying AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, the self-styled anti-corruption champion, had suddenly turned into a saviour of the corrupt.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had on Tuesday raided the offices of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s secretary Rajendra Kumar, a move the AAP claimed was a cover for an attempt to take files linked to alleged corruption in the DDCA (Delhi & District Cricket Association).
Ashutosh alleged 21st Century – a company he claimed was owned by someone close to Jaitley and his family – was paid a commission of Rs 5.5 crore to illegally sub-lease these spectators’ boxes.
The allegations came a day after the AAP alleged that fake companies were created to siphon money from the DDCA during Jaitley’s tenure as the cricket body’s president for more than a decade. Jaitley was incharge of the DDCA for 13 years till December 2013.
The party also alleged there were irregularities in team selection during that period.
In a social media post, Jaitley had reiterated that he was cleared of the charges during UPA rule and “no personal allegation was ever made” against him.
Jaitley received support from the BJP and yoga guru Baba Ramdev, with both hitting out at the AAP for targeting the finance minister to deflect attention from the CBI raid.
“I have never heard anything against his (Jaitley) integrity. It is unfortunate that such charges are levelled against him. I think charges against anyone should have some weight,” Ramdev said in Lucknow.
The BJP dismissed as “false and foolish” five questions posed by the AAP to Jaitley and termed it a “diversionary tactic” to deflect attention from the corruption charges against Kejriwal’s principal secretary.
“Jaitley has been in public life for longer than the age of Kejriwal and his integrity has never been in question. Kejriwal and his party have been levelling such false and foolish charges just to save a corrupt officer,” BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
Sharma alleged Kejriwal had always defended his colleagues found on the wrong side of the law and recalled how he protected former Delhi law ministers Jitender Singh Tomar and Somnath Bharti arrested on charges of using a forged certificate and domestic violence, respectively.
(With inputs from agencies)