DDCA row: Modi backs Jaitley, says he will come out with flying colours
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday defended finance minister Arun Jaitley, dragged into the DDCA controversy by the AAP, and called him as virtuous as LK Advani who had also come under the Opposition’s attack over a hawala scandal in the 1990s but was proved innocent.
Just like Advani, Modi told BJP MPs here, Jaitley will sail through the corruption charges levelled against him “with flying colours”. Jaitley has already sued Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders for defamation.
Modi hit out at the Congress for levelling “wrong and manufactured” allegations to “defame” the government and stressed the party had learnt no lesson during 18 months of being out of power. He asked party MPs to understand the pattern behind Congress attacks on capable and performing leaders and ministers. He identified Jaitley, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and a couple of others as Congress targets.
At the weekly meeting of the BJP parliamentary party, no reference was made to party MP Kirti Azad, absent at the event, who has been embarrassing the leadership by alleging scams in the DDCA inside and outside Parliament.
“The Prime Minister gave the example of LK Advani. The government at that time tried to implicate him in the hawala case. Advani came through with flying colours and the strategy of the Congress boomeranged. The same thing is going to happen regarding the allegations against Jaitley... The Congress is inventing issues to defame the government,” parliamentary affairs minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters later. Advani was present on the dais when Modi spoke.
BJP rivals used this statement to attack Jaitley, saying the PM advised him to follow Advani who had resigned after the charges were levelled and returned to Parliament only after being absolved.
“Modi-ji, are you giving the same advice to Jaitley?” leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad asked.
The CPI(M) was quick to hit out, too. “By drawing a parallel with Advani, the Prime Minister is giving a hint to Arun Jaitley that he should resign, get himself cleared and come back,” party general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters.
BJP leaders rubbished these “misinterpretations”, saying the PM’s remarks would instead pre-empt any rallying of dissident forces behind Kirti Azad.
Earlier, Modi asked party MPs to expose the Congress which he said was hurting the nation by stalling Parliament. He asked them to take up a ‘Lok Sabha se Jan Sabha’ programme under which every MP should hold public meetings, press conferences and similar programmes in their constituencies to build pressure on the Congress.
“In the period between the winter session, ending Wednesday, and the budget session all of you should go to your areas and connect with people. We did this between the monsoon session and the winter session. But our efforts should be more rigorous this time,” Modi said.
MPs were advised to spend at least one night in each assembly constituency in their area and also try to cover parliamentary seats not represented by the BJP.