Calling the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government the “worst government” in Delhi’s history, Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday it made the controversy-dogged Congress regime of Sheila Dikshit seem like a “golden era”.
The minister and lawyer — the target of AAP’s allegations of corruption in the city’s cricket body previously headed by him — said all the ruling party did was “create controversy and live by controversy” instead of working to improve the quality of life of Delhiites, for which it had received a historic mandate.
In an interview to HT, Jaitley gave a point-by-point rebuttal to the charges, most of which he said belonged to a time after he left the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) in 2013.
The AAP had Friday sought to link the minister’s family to a sports management firm, Twenty First Century Media (TCM), that had won a contract for sub-leasing of corporate boxes in the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
“To get into public life, I have lost, sacrificed more legitimate income than most dishonest politicians actually make. I didn’t leave so much of legitimate income to get my family members a secret partner in sports management business,” he said.
“What hurts me is that Delhi deserves better. This is the worst government in history the city of Delhi has seen. Even the earlier regime of Sheila Dikshit, which was in many controversies, has started looking like a golden era.”
Speaking about TCM, which handles dozens of cricket grounds in India, he said, “They (AAP leaders) say my family members are partners or associated with it. I have no family member who has even a one paisa interest in any form of business. Why should my family be part of some sports management business? Twenty First Century has already initiated legal action against them.”
Accusing the AAP government of “conspiring” to prevent Delhi from hosting the fourth and final Test match against South Africa earlier this month, he said, “It was only after the high court intervened and appointed a retired chief justice to conduct the match (that it could take place). And if this attitude continues, the Delhi government would again attempt to ensure Delhi is denied 11 matches next year during the women and men’s T20 World Cup.”
Accusing AAP of playing the “victim” to deflect attention from the controversies dogging it, Jaitley said “you plead injury and then try to deflect the issue”, be it when one of its MLAs is arrested for domestic violence or for faking his educational qualifications or for assaulting a public servant.
On the CBI raid in a corruption probe against CM Kejriwal’s principal secretary Rajendra Kumar, Jaitley cited the instance of the agency conducting searches in the finance ministry following the leak of classified documents. “What’s wrong in that? If some officer has committed a crime, can a minister say his office has been searched?”
Of the various allegations leveled at him by AAP, Jaitley said, only two related to his tenure (1999-2013). “The first is that if R58 crore is given for civil work, where did you spend the rest? Obviously, there are 43 other items of work after the civil work ranging from practice pitches to flooring, airconditioning, sanitation, flood lights, et al. We have a list of all of them… those 43 payments being made. The whole cost came to R114 crore. At this cost, it is probably the cheapest stadium to be built. It is the only stadium in Delhi built without taxpayers’ money.”
“Second, you sold corporate boxes (as alleged by AAP). For a match, we sell seats inside the match venue, we don’t sell the stadium. Similarly, we don’t sell the corporate boxes, we sell the seats in the corporate boxes for the match.”
The Serious Fraud Investigation Office, which conducted an enquiry into the allegations during the UPA regime, had given Jaitley a clean chit.
“Now I have a basic point,” said Jaitley. “What is Kejriwal’s or the Delhi government’s jurisdiction in it? Na zameen inki hai, na paisa inka, na company mein uski jurisdiction hai. To yeh begani shaadi mein abdullah deewana!”