The BJP came out all guns blazing at the Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday as senior ministers dismissed charges of financial misconduct levelledagainst finance minister Arun Jaitley and accused Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of using “falsehood” and “political hysteria” to shield corrupt officials.
In a Facebook post, Jaitley struck back at AAP leaders for making allegations of corruption in the Delhi and District Cricket Association following a CBI raid at the office of the chief minister’s principal secretary, saying “does free speech include the right to speak only falsehood.”
“Delhi CM Kejriwal seems to believe in untruth and defamation, delivered in language that borders on hysteria. No personal allegation was ever made against me nor did I ever feel the need of contradicting it,” the finance minister wrote. “Finding himself acting as a shield to cover an officer under investigation, the Delhi Chief Minister has attempted to focus attention on me.”
The strong rebuttal came hours after the AAP called for Jaitley’s resignation, saying a number of private firms were benefitted through false billing, duplication of work, skirting around financial norms and massive fraud in the DDCA that oversees cricket in the Capital.
The acrimonious war of words that has pit Delhi’s ruling party against the Centre was triggered by the CBI raid on Tuesday at the Delhi secretariat. Kejriwal condemned the action and called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “coward” and a “psychopath” while the AAP alleged the investigators wanted to lay their hands on DDCA scam files.
“If the Union Government were to consider using against the Delhi Chief Minister the adjectives that Mr. Kejriwal used against the Prime Minister, it would be legitimate to contend that this is not in consonance with the federal spirit,” the finance minister wrote.
“When two Chief Ministers, Mamata Banerjee Ji and Nitish Kumar Babu, supported Mr. Kejriwal, notwithstanding the use of highly objectionable words against the Prime Minister, can it be in consonance with the federal spirit? The two Chief Ministers need to redeem themselves by publicly distancing themselves from Mr. Kejriwal’s vocabulary.”
Human resource development minister Smriti Irani said a 2013 probe by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office couldn’t find any evidence against Jaitley while looking into alleged irregularities in Delhi’s cricket body that he headed for over a decade.
“The BJP stands resolutely behind Arun Jaitley and publicly condemns AAP’s malicious intention to deflect public attention from a corrupt official in Kejriwal’s office,” said Irani.
Showering praise on Jaitley, she said he had written his name in “golden letters in history” with his dedication and work and Kejriwal’s attempts to protect a corrupt officer amounted to abdicating the anti-corruption movement from which he had shot to limelight.