6.33 pm: The next IAC target is Nitin Gadkari
Anjali Damania, an India Against Corruption activist best known for being the whistle blower of the Maharashtra irrigation scam has dropped a massive bombshell by confirming that the ‘next big expose’ would be against the BJP’s President Nitin Gadkari.
What Damania has effectively done is nullify Kejriwal’s statement that he had decided to postpone his ‘next big expose’. Speaking to television channels, Damania said that both she and Kejriwal had all the documents in place to expose Gadkari.
This would not be the first time she has locked horns with the BJP President. While exposing the Maharashtra irrigation scam, Damania also charged that although she repeatedly went to Gadkari for help, he had refused to get involved because of his connections with Sharad Pawar.
Following the allegations, Gadkari served Damania with a legal notice. She has however, remained defiant and refused to apologise.
4:15 pm: Congress dismisses Kejriwal’s alllegations says probe by UP govt is enough
The Congress has ruled out paying any heed to Kejriwal’s demand for an independent probe.
“The Uttar Pradesh government has appointed a committee to luck into this matter and that is sufficient,” Sandeep Dikshit, Congress spokesperson, said.
He also said it was upto Kejriwal to decide if he wanted to consider Prime Minister Manmohan Singh legitimate or not.
“The nation considers him (Manmohan Singh) it’s Prime Minister, he said curtly.
He also chose to dodge a question regarding minister Beni Prasad Verma’s unexpected defence of his ministerial colleague.
“It is not about how much the scam amount is but whether there is any basis to the allegations being levelled,” Dikshit said.
4:00 pm: Kejriwal calls off agitation, says next target to be announced on 17 October
Kejriwal has criticised the statements made by Beni Prasad Verma and has said that they will now go to Khurshid’s home constituency of Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh and will ensure he doesn’t come to power.
“We will make sure that the next time round a physically challenged person is elected instead of Khurshid,” Kejriwal said.
And he’s already lining up his next target. Kejriwal said that he’s set to announce his next target on 17 October, a day later than planned.
“We have not had the time to analyse the documents that have been sent by people from across the country. So we have delayed our announcement by a day,” he said.
The activist-turned-politician also announced that he doesn’t not consider the Prime Minister legitimate any more given he refused to remove Khurshid from his post. The group will also be supporting a farmers’ rally on 30 October in Gurgaon to protest against land acquisition policies that Indian companies had followed.
3:30 pm: Rs 71 lakh scam too little for Salman Khurshid, says minister Beni Prasad Verma
Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma says what many have been thinking, but whether he’s implying his ministerial colleague is guilty of greater financial fraud or is innocent, is difficult to tell.
“I can’t believe that a man like Salman Khurshid can indulge in corruption for an amount of Rs 71 lakh….if it had been Rs 71 crore then I would have taken it seriously,” he said to much laughter at an event.
He choice of words while choosing to target Arvind Kejriwal also left a lot desired and he said that the activist-turned-politician “should not bark day and night”.
Incidentally, Beni Prasad has hit the limelight in the past as well for equally puzzling statements. He has recently claimed that high inflation was good for the people, a comment which drew a lot of brickbats. He had also been questioned by the election commission for promising a sub-quota for minorities during the Uttar Pradesh poll campaigning. For this comment Verma may earn brickbats from within his party, but Kejriwal and group may send him a thank you note.
3.26pm: BJP demands independent probe on Khurshid
Praising the media for its work in uncovering irregularities in Law Minister Salman Khurshid’s NGO, the BJP called for an independent probe into matter.
2.20pm Khurshids will not talk to the media anymore
Perhaps as a result of their press conference that took a turn for the bizarre last evening, Salman and Louise Khurshid have said that they are not going to talk to the media anymore. And to reiterate the point, television channels show a stoic Salman Khurshid acknowledging the reporters mobbing him for a sound byte, but refusing to humour them.
And now, Congress spokespersons Ambika Soni and Rashid Alvi are defending the move saying, “He has already spoken to you at great length, and his lawyers are taking the matter forward. There is nothing more to say”.
She also dismissed speculation that the Congress party had isolated Khurshid in this matter, saying that there was no question of the party abandoning him. “Khurshid has a reputation to be proud of. He has a legacy most of us would like to have. He has decided to take the legal route.”
1.23pm: Bhushan says evidence against Khurshid is solid
And now it’s Prashant Bhushan’s turn at the mic. So far though, he has not said anything new, reiterating Kejriwal’s allegations that the Khurshid is drunk on power, and that there is a nexus between the Congress and the UP government.
He further says that it is surprising that someone would forge signatures for such a small amount, but the evidence is there. The ‘small amount’ in question is Rs 70 lakh, which is admittedly nothing on the scale of all the scams that have been paraded before an increasingly weary public.
12.51pm: Digvijaya Singh bats for Khurshid
Guess who’s come out in support of the beleaguered Law Minister? Why its senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh!
When asked whether it was right for the Law Minister to launch a verbal attack on the media, Singh said,”If you make such allegations against an innocent man obviously he will get angry.”
The senior Congress leader also said he would request the PM, Finance Minister and CAG to probe how a draft report of the authority was leaked to the media.
“Whenever there is a report against the Congress govt the CAG report leaks to the media,” he said.
12.27pm: Akhilesh Yadav says probe against Khurshid will not be biased
UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has dismissed Kejriwal’s allegation that a state government probe into Khurshid’s NGO will be biased, saying that it would be improper to comment on the probe until it arrives at a final conclusion.
“Nobody will be spared nor there is any pressure on our officials,” he said. The comments come even as the Economic Offences Wing conducted raids on handicap welfare centres in 16 districts of Uttar Pradesh on Monday in connection with the allegations of irregularities in Salman Khurshid’s NGO. The EOW of the Uttar Pradesh Police had launched a probe into the matter on Sunday.
The probe is being carried out to cross check what the TV Today sting operation says and also the fresh allegations against Salman Khurshid and his wife Louise Khurshid. “Four teams have been constituted for probe in 17 districts where irregularities are suspected. Whether this suspicion is wrong or right only time will tell,” DG EOW Subrata Tripathi told reporters on Sunday.
12.19pm: Kejriwal says Khurshid will intimidate witnesses to hush up probe
Kejriwal is now accusing Khurshid of using his power and influence to ‘silence’ witnesses and bury the allegations against his NGO in Uttar Pradesh. “This law minister, his wife and Congress are so strong that they can break anyone and force anyone to say anything”, he said, adding that in ten days there wouldn’t be any witnesses against the Minister at all.
“Everyone has a breaking point. I spoke with Ramraj Singh who had allegedly written a letter of support for the Khurshids. I told Singh to come to Delhi and tell people what had happened. He refused. I don’t blame him. He also has a family. Everyone is scared. Every proof will be destroyed one at a time. All the witnesses will not exist.”
12.12pm: ‘Is PM on the side of the nation or on the side of corruption’?
Kejriwal has taken the mic again, and redoubled his attack on Khurshid, while issuing a fresh challenge to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “We will announce our plan after the Prime Minister decides whether he wants to back the nation’s people or corruption”, says Kejriwal, in what looks like a move to show the people that they are giving Singh one more chance to dismiss Kurshid from the union cabinet.
The comments come even as the Law Minister meets with the Prime Minister at his residence. “Khurshid is going to meet PM. Lets see what he says on it. We have also asked to meet with the Prime Minister”, he said.
12.05pm: Raids on Khurshid’s trust
New reports are coming in that raids are being conducted on Salman Khurshid’s trust in 17 places in Uttar Pradesh. No further details were immediately available. We’ll update as soon as we find out more.
11.50am: IAC to take Khurshid fight to UP
Manish Sisodia announces that the fight against Salman and Louise Khurshid will be taken right to their constituency of Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh. He also targets Louise, saying that her request for a government probe into the activities of the couple’s NGO is not as noble as it seems, alleging that she only asked for the probe once she realised that the media was going to broadcast the story.
11.38 am: Louder, angrier Gopal Rai rubbishes Khurshid’s ‘proof’ that he’s innocent
A louder and angrier Gopal Rai has taken over the mic from Kejriwal, and brings more fire in to the press conference. He tells the crowd that the testimony of just one ‘witness’ does not exonerate Khurshid, saying, “Just by one testimony and with papers you can try to intimidate one media channel. But now the whole nation is against Khurshid”
He also reiterates Kejriwal’s allegations of a SP-Congress nexus saying, “We all suspect that the UP government and Law Minister are making a deal. But that deal has been exposed now.
11.35 am: Kejriwal alleges nexus between UP govt and Khurshid
Kejriwal now repeats allegations that the UP government is collaborating with the Law Minister to cover up the mismanagement that went on in his NGO. “Who will probe the allegations? Akhilesh Yadav? Mulayam Singh himself is facing allegations in SC for disproportionate assets. And who is the person who will be against Mulayam Singh in court? Salman Khurshid… So we expect Mulayam Singh’s son to take action against Salman Khurshid, when Khurshid is in charge of his father’s prosecution?”
11.29 am: Kejriwal begins witness testimonies
In what is looking more and more like a made for television legal drama, Kejriwal has invited a man identified as ‘Pankaj Bhai’ to the stage, to testify against Khurshid. Pankaj bhai is questioned by Kejriwal, and says that he never got any benefits from Khurshid’s NGO although he has been listed as a recipient of a hearing aid from Khurshid’s NGO.
11.22am: Kejriwal’s allegations get serious
The allegations are starting to get more serious now. Kejriwal is challenging the beneficiaries of the schemes funded by Khurshid’s NGO. He says that some names listed as beneficiaries cannot be traced, while other names do not belong to physically challenged people. He also says that there are instances of individual cases where people who were to benefit from schemes did not receive anything from the NGO.
He also charges that the testimonies of beneficiaries ‘paraded before the media’ had only been given their devices a few hours before the press conference.
11.19 am: ‘Everyone wants to take Khurshid down’
Pointing to the fact that the media itself had unearthed new conspiracy charges against Khurshid, Kejriwal says, “ The media has revealed a lot of evidence against Salman Khurshid. The whole nation seems to be looking for evidence against him.”
11.00am: Kejriwal begins counter attack against Khurshid
After the usual sloganeering and a slightly new surprise element, when an audience member in green was literally tossed on to the stage, to say his piece on behalf of the aam aadmi, Kejriwal begins his counter attack against Law Minister Salman Khurshid. He begins by reasserting his claim from last night that the photos provided by Khurshid as ‘proof’ that his trust held medical camps were from 2009-10, while the allegations of corruption are for 2011-12.
He also casts doubt on the ‘testimony’ of a disabled person who said he had received aid from Khurshid’s trust but said that he would not pursue the man any further.
10: 30 am: Kejriwal continuing protests at Jantar Mantar
If there were any doubts about the intensity of the protests, Kejriwal has put them to rest. The protest is continuing at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and he’s still firm on his demand seeking the resignation of the law minister.
CNN IBN meanwhile reports that the Congress is also marshaling support for the Law Minister among its political allies to prevent any difference in opinion. The party’s leaders are in talks with allies to ensure they back the party in retaining the Law Minister.
10:00 am: Kejriwal to level fresh allegations, Khurshid to meet PM
Unrelenting on his accusations against Law Minister Salman Khurshid, anti-corruption activist turned politician Arvind Kejriwal is set to launch a fresh salvo against him today at 11 am.
Kejriwal has dismissed the justifications given by Khurshid at his raucous press conference yesterday and said that like the Law Minister came out in support of Robert Vadra, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should speak on the issue. And yes, he still wants Khurshid to be arrested.
“He did not answer any of the five questions raised by us. He says he won’t answer to the people of the streets….He is misleading people,” Kejriwal told protesters at Parliament Street last night. Kejriwal and his supporters have been camped there over the weekend.
Kejriwal also demanded a probe by a retired Supreme Court judge into the allegations, but said Khurshid should resign and be arrested before any probe alleging “he is a powerful person and that he can pressurise witnesses and erase evidence”.
“If the Prime Minister feels that there is no need for Khurshid to resign, let it be. Then we will field a disabled person as a candidate against him and defeat him in the next elections,” he said.
On Khurshid providing photographs to claim that camps were held by his NGO, Kejriwal claimed that the photographs he provided were that of the 2010-11 fiscal.
“The allegations are about 2009-10. He has been caught,” he claimed.
He also said that they will produce a witness to prove that no camps were held by the NGO during that time.
“In his press conference, Khurshid produced a man who appeared in the sting to rebut the claims he made in the sting. But Kejriwal was unsurprisingly unconvinced. “We won’t allege that he changed his statement due to pressure but some people feel that Khurshid is a powerful person…,” he said.
Khurshid, after defending himself in a press conference that went horribly wrong, will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today. While the minister has said there is no question of him quitting, the Congress party is also backing him completely and has ruled out his departure from the cabinet.