The war of words between Law Minister Salman Khurshid and IAC activist Arvind Kejriwal grew louder and bitterer on Monday, with the activist-turned-politician rubbishing Khurshid’s ‘evidence’ that he never misappropriated funds from an NGO run by him and his wife.
Kejriwal also called off his agitation demanding the minister’s resignation, vowing to take the battle to Khurshid’s electoral constituency of Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile the Economic Offences Wing of the Uttar Pradesh police also began its probe in the matter by taking documents from 17 branches of Khurshid’s NGO across 16 districts in Uttar Pradesh.
Here is a quick wrap up of key developments so far.
Kejriwal rubbishes Khurshid’s evidence, calls off protest rally
IAC’s Arvind Kejriwal announced he was calling off his protest against Khurshid in New Delhi and vowed to take the fight to the Law Minister’s constituency of Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh from 1 November.
“We are suspending our agitation, not closing it… We will take our fight to every village of Farrukhabad,” Kejriwal said at Jantar Mantar.
He alleged that the Uttar Pradesh government would not act against Khurshid as the union law minister and could influence a disproportionate assets case against Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in the apex court.
“Both will save each other,” Kejriwal said, referring to the Congress and Samajwadi Party.
Kejriwal also produced what he said was “more evidence” of financial bungling by the trust run by Khurshid and his wife, even as the Congress defended him saying he was “a very important minister of UPA-2″.
Addressing his supporters at Jantar Mantar, Kejriwal paraded people who claimed they had not got any aids– wheel-chairs, hearing aids or tricycles – from the Zakir Husain Memorial Trust that the Khurshids head.
Economic Offences Wing begins probing Khurshid NGO
The Economic Offences Wing of the Uttar Pradesh police conducted raids on 17 handicap welfare centres in 16 districts of Uttar Pradesh on Monday in connection with the allegations of irregularities in Salman Khurshid’s NGO. The 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. “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.
Beni Prasad Verma attempts to help, lands himself and Congress in soup
Seeking to defend his colleague, Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma put his foot in his mouth with a firm hand, saying a man like Salman Khurshid would not do any wrong for a mere Rs 71 lakh, which is a “very small amount” for a Central Minister. He later said his statement had been misinterpreted.
“Salman Khurshid is a responsible person. He is a Central Minister. He was a Central Minister earlier as well. When he is saying there is no scam, he should be believed… I don’t think a person like Khurshid will do anything for an amount like Rs 71 lakh. It is a very small amount for a Central Minister,” he told reporters here.
“If it would have been Rs 71 crore, even I would have been serious,” Verma said adding Khurshid should not resign from his current position.
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 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.
Khurshid’s take oath of media silence
Perhaps as a result of their press conference that took a turn for the bizarre, Salman and Louise Khurshid have said that they are not going to talk to the media anymore. And to reiterate the point, television channels showed a stoic Salman Khurshid acknowledging the reporters mobbing him for a sound byte, but refusing to humour them.
Ministerial colleague Ambika Soni also defended his silence 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.”