6.30pm: Why is the PM silent? Kejriwal doesn’t give up on his Congress bashing yet
Despite the loud, theatrical cheers by the 300-string congregation at Kejriwal’s address, Kejriwal seems to be struggling to find fitting retorts – something that seems to come to him naturally, otherwise.
He dismisses Khurshid’s claims that there were senior government officials who can vouch for the camps and their authenticity, he trashed the picture provided by Khurshid. “People are saying that someone as powerful as the law minister might be able to make people change their statements. We are not saying so. But like Mistri, we will get out own proof tomorrow at 11am who will testify against him!” he declares zestily before going back to his now week-old demands for his resignation and citing of the Aaj Tak report Khurshid rebutted a while back.
Soon enough, his ‘why is the PM silent, why is Sonia ji silent’ sloganeering resumed and summed up his address.
6.25pm: Kejriwal not convinced, questions the ‘proof’ produced by minister
Kejriwal tries his best to put Khurshid back in a spot. However, his argument seems to have lost a bit of its edge – thanks to how many times he has repeated the same and Khurshid’s shrewd dismissal of the same. While Kejriwal repeats that Khurshid has not answered his question, the law minister, very shrewdly had pushed the blame of the forged signatures on the failure of inter-governmental communication. He had also demanded a probe, which Kejriwal, as expected ridicules.
Kejriwal also points out that J B Singh’s picture dated back in 2007, while the scams reported, were dated between 2009-2010. However, Khurshid had declared that J B Singh had attended camps in the past and he had lobbed the ball back in Singh’s court, by expressing surprise at his declaration that he didn’t sign the affidavit produced by Louise Khurshid.
6.08pm: Kejriwal addresses press conference, will he rubbish Khurshid’s defence
Arvind Kejriwal, recently rechristened Mr K, the man on the streets, by Salman Khurshid, is reportedly all ready to address another press conference – possibly his second in the day. If not anything, this could make for great net practice for all those days he might have to spend campaigning and addressing rallies! Not that you feel he needs any more training, when you see him exercise his vocal chords in the countless rallies, press conferences and TV interviews he has been appearing in!
4.20pm: Khurshid gets Rangee Mistri, a ‘beneficiary’ of his NGO’s camps
Khurshid presents a visibly shaken man, with a hearing-aid on, as proof of Aaj Tak’s duplicity. As the crowd backing Khurshid, the evidently excited bunch of India Today journalists and other attendants of the press conference raised the din to an unbearable pitch, Khurshid got Rangee Mistri to tell the media that he has got the hearing aid from the trust.
“This man had got the hearing aid two years back. He had told them that the aid keeps acting-up and was hoping to get another another. So when the reporters asked them if he has got another aid, he said no, because he needed a new one!”
To which, the Congress supporters, break out in wild hoots, almost victorious in pitch. If you didn’t know the context, you would have thought that Khurshid was watching a cricket match with his supporters!
4.20pm: A Murdoch-like inquiry into India Today?
After Louise Khurshid, tells the media about the submission of a ‘check-list’ in the incorrect format, she also dares the India Today group journalists to not create a ruckus in the press conference, instead defend themselves in the court where Khurshid has filed a defamation suit against the group.
“We want an independent probe into the whole forgery thing. The rest is all clarified. The inquiry should also look at the India Today group like an inquiry was conducted into News Corp owned by Rupert Murdoch,” says Khurshid.
4.00pm: Khurshid, the condescending, Oxford alumni!
When a Hindi language journalist, repeats the questions that Khurshid seems to think, he has answered, the law minister loses his cool! “I have already answered that in English. Maybe, you didn’t get it. I will translate it for you,” he says.
However, as expected, unruliness takes over the press conference and Khurshid, now visibly agitated asks the person in question, who seems in a bright mood to yell at the minister, to leave the press conference!
As suspected, the reporter, who seems to have got Khurshid’s goat is an Aaj Tak reporter, who presumably has had enough of Khurshid’s India Today-slamming and decides to hit back!
The drama shows no sign of ending though! Khurshid starts up in anger and shouts, “His life is in danger, he was made filthy, false statements and is now trying to cover up!”
3.40pm: Counter sting on India Today?
In probably the most dramatic announcement, Salman Khurshid, declares that they have conducted a reverse sting in which they have tapped phone conversations where India Today is caught offering ‘new things’ to people if they declare that ‘they have not got anything’ from the trust!
Is it us, or Khurshid’s calling the disabled people ‘viklangs’ like they are chicken, repeatedly sounds offensive? Khurshid declares that the disabled people who have benefitted from the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust have been brought to Delhi to testify against the allegations levelled against them.
However, we might have to wait a bit more for the spoils of Khurshid’s ‘counter-sting’, which the law minister promises to reveal and provide in good time as the drama keeps unfurling!
3.30pm: Khurshid seems to be on a roll, now shows purchase orders for equipment
Taking a dig again at Arvind Kejriwal as the ‘man on the streets dragging disabled people around’, Salman Khurshid now gives out copies of a ‘utilisation certificate’ which shows that all the funds, especially the Rs 71 lakh, has been ‘utilised’. He also showed copies of the NGO’s account audits which, according to him, proves their transparency.
He then goes on to furnish purchase orders issued by the hospitals through the NGO for equipment for the disabled. “Are all of this forged, false?” asks Khurshid. “I’m hurt. How many people reach out to the disabled? We did and a senior, respected politician like me is being dragged through the dirt. Don’t know what evil makes someone do that. I’m deeply hurt!” Maybe, Bollywood in the lack of inspiration, should look towards our politician!
3.15pm: Salman Khurshid furnishes pictures of J B Singh in camps organised by the Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust
Salman Khurshid, like he had promised on Karan Thapar’s show, flaunts a picture from 2007, where J B Singh seemed to be present with the physically-challenged people who were handed over aid by the NGO. “The camp was held in Etah, contrary to what has been alleged,” says Khurshid, now showing a cut out of a report where government officials are show in attendance with disabled beneficiaries of the trust.
Khurshid then reads out from a list, which comprises senior government officials, who were present and oversaw the setting up of camps in all the ten districts in which irregularities have been reported. “The allegation was not that the camps were symbolic and deficient. The allegation was that there were no camps held! Now, tell me that all these government officials who attended the the camps are liars and the reports in the media are true!”
3.10pm: My instinct was to not to invite Aaj Tak, but I’m a democratic person so I didn’t stop them
Khurshid, singed by the rush for ‘breaking news’, as expected, seemed to be wary of journalists. Much like a annoyed mother, he scolded, “Listen to me in silence, you’ll get a good copy. Or you will not get a good copy!”
2.25pm: Who are the hoodlums on the street?
Journalists, especially the India Today group, seemed to be have gotten Khurshid’s goat for their alleged irresponsibility. “Why doesn’t Aaj Tak ask the government officials how things happened? How the signatures got forged? I suspect this was not a sting, there’s more to it. Get Arun Poorie to sit in front of me and let him answer my questions?” declared a visibly angry Khurshid.
When host Karan Thapar asked Khurshid about the charges levelled against ‘him’, the Union law minister bristled at the mentioned. While he might have been tempted to remind Thapar that he has taught and Oxford and that exonerates him of all charges, he retorted that no one has alleged that Khurshid himself has done any wrong. “Nobody has said that I have signed anything, I have sent any recommendation. Why did Arun Poorie say such lofty things about me and suggest the employees of our NGO might be responsible? I might not be directly involved but my wife is involved with the NGO – the wife who is extremely supportive of me, who I owe most of my career too!” Such a romantic relief to a high octane political drama. Phew!
However, Khurshid ended his heroics on the chat show by declaring that he will not let ‘hoodlums on the street’ dictate what he has to do! Journalists and activists, decide who’s the bigger hoodlum! And run for cover, Khurshid, like a good husband, is out to get you!
2.25pm: Why someone who has taught at Oxford doesn’t need to forge signatures
Salman Khurshid might have an explanation for that. The Union law minister declared emphatically, “Why would a law minister, who has taught at Oxford need to forge signatures?” While Karan Thapar wondered aloud, how, ‘stranger things happen’, Khurshid passed the buck on the the UP government and the Centre. Reacting to Aaj Tak’s allegations that the NGO forged signatures of UP government special secretary Ramraj Singh to secure funds from the Centre, Khurshid said that it is the UP government which should be made to answer how that happened.
“This was a communication between the two governments. How am I supposed to know what transpired between them? It is the UP government who should explain how a retired officer wrote to the Centre and his recommendation got approved,” says Khurshid.
1.35pm: Khurshid says that he doesn’t participate in the day-to-day working of the trust
“It’s a trust very close to my heart and very special to me. But I deliberately stay away from the working of the trust,” Khurshid declares. While you wonder if that should be read as a disclaimer that could precede an act of making a scape-goat of an employee, Khurshid rush back to defend his trust. When Thapar grills Khurshid, citing a CAG report, that mentions that the audit body ‘suspects fraud’ in the NGO, Khurshid retorts that they can’t be hauled up based on someone’s ‘suspicion’.
“We have not embezzled Rs 71 lakh or any money. Do you think I’m stupid enough to let a trust associated with me indulge in forgery and funds embezzlement,” says Khurshid. He also somehow finds it relevant to mention that CAG Vinod Rai is his neighbour! Given how the Congress has continually attacked Rai, wonder what neighbourly concern Rai might be harbouring for Khurshid!
1.35pm: Following are the five questions Kejriwal wants Khurshid to answer in his press conference
Q1. Do you agree that your NGO has used forged letter of ramraj singh to receive the grants?
Q2. Do you agree that the affidavit of J B Singh is forged? If yes then why did you use this forge document?
Q3. The letter which was written by UP govt against you, is it right or wrong?
Q4. do you agree with the letter written by the UP govt on 12 June 201 2 to the central govt?
Q5. If the people who u claim that have been benefited say they have not received the equipments then will you resign and give up politics?
1:20pm: Kejriwal sets the SP-led UP government against the UPA-led Centre
Kejriwal seems to be learning the tricks of the political trade, commendably fast. In his rally in Delhi, he declared that it was ‘Akhilesh Yadav ji’ who has called Salman Khurshid’s NGO fraudulent, before them. “We have not called the NGO fraud without proof. The UP government and Akhilesh Yadav ji has called it a fraud. It was the UP government which had found something fishy in the workings of Khurshid’s NGO and started an inquiry. On 12 June this year, they filed a report saying that while Khurshid’s NGO had declared that camps were organised in a village in UP to distribute aid to the disabled, the government has no record of such a camp being set up,” said Kejriwal. Louise Khurshid, according to Kejriwal, was also sent a show-cause notice.
Kejriwal, played up the SP-UPA tension reasonably, by constantly referring to the government as Akhilesh Yadav’s government. The question is, will the SP, which has till now been whining that they can’t do anything about FDI, price hike etc due to the compulsions of being allies of the Congress, find their backbone back? Will they pull another TMC on the UPA?
1:15pm: The ‘third rate’ people have risen to claim their rights, says Kejriwal
True to his penchant for drama, Kejriwal didn’t refute Khurshid’s labelling him and the IAC as ‘third rate people’. In fact, he turned the phrase around to play the class card and declared ‘third rate people’ an epithet used by the elite for the common man. And to dramatically round up his argument, he added, “The third rate people have now risen and will rout corruption from the roots. We will protest till Khurshid resigns.”
Asked about his plan of action, if Khurshid doesn’t resign, Kejriwal warned that he will leave Khurshid’s residence but take the protests to the rest of the country.
1:10pm: Salman Khurshid refutes charges levelled against him
Khurshid denies charges that the Zakir Hussain Trust forged signatures of senior officials in UP. “J B Singh has claimed that his signatures were forged in the affidavit that we have provided to refute allegations of embezzlement. I can show you pictures of the same man when he attended camps organised by our NGO for the disabled and gave away equipment to them,” Hussain declared during an exclusive interview with Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN.
Khurshid also said that the CAG should have taken a look at the documents that are lying with the ministry, that proves that no funds were siphoned off.
12:40pm: Congress calls IAC protests against Khurshid ‘publicity stunts’
Stepping up its attack against anti-graft activist Arvind Kejrival, Congress today charged him with trying to “gain cheap popularity” by levelling charges against Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid in connection with an organisation being run by his family.
“This is cheap popularity. He does not know what is democracy, parliamentary procedures. He wants popularity and is using the media for this,” Congress leader and Minister of state in the PMO, V Narayansamy said.
Speaking to reporters at the airport here, he said Kejrival would one day “feel the heat and learn a lesson”. Defending Khurshid, he said there were no irregularities and maintained it was a private transaction where there was “no proof to show government support”. ”Kejrival is maligining people. He will feel the heat and learn a lesson,” the Minister said adding a 100 slogan-shouting persons cannot “decide the fate of the country.”
He charged Kejrival with furnishing “bogus account”, regarding the money collected for social activist Anna Hazare’s fast in Delhi demanding Lokpal.
Kejrival had accused that Khurshid’s NGO siphoned off money meant for disabled. The Minister’s wife and director of the NGO, Louise Khurshid, had described them as “baseless innuendos” and accused the activist of “doing politics using the shoulders of the disabled”. On the Cauvery issue, with Supreme Court endorsing the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s ruling as head of Cauvery River Authority asking Karnataka to release 9000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu, Narayanasamy said that state had “no other alternative”.
11:00 am: Khurshid tells reporters that he will provide documentary proof at the 3 pm press conference.
The proof that the Law Minister provides will the first indication of the course of his defense. Given his statements over the last few days, it is clear that Khurshid will come out with all guns blazing. He is also speaking to Karan Thapar at noon.
10.45 am: Khurshid wants TV-Today Chairman and MD Arun Poorie to resign
Salman Khurshid who arrived in Delhi today after a visit to London, has lashed out at his detractors and in turn demanded the resignation of TV-Today Chairman and MD Arun Poorie, according to CNN-IBN sources. He will hold a press conference at 3 pm today where he says he will answer and provide documentary proof.
According to PTI Law Minister Salman Khurshid said he will fight back against the allegations that his NGO siphoned off money meant for disabled with sufficient proof. The Law Minister faced protests at IGI airport here this morning where activists of Kejriwal-led India Against Corruption (IAC) raised slogans against him and attempted to show black flags.
Khurshid, who was in London for the past few days, denied the allegations levelled by a TV Today and Kejriwal’s IAC that the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust owned by him and his wife Louise was involved in cases of financial misappropriation and forgery.
BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, reacted to the Khurshid-Kejriwal war, stating that the war of words going on between Khurshid and Kejriwal is not good. If Salman feels he is innocent, then he should allow investigation into the allegation and let the truth come out.
9.30 am: Khurshid calls Kejriwal a third-rate person
Law Minister Salman Khurshid rubbished allegations that he was “doing politics using the shoulders of the disabled” saying he has nothing to hide.
“Frankly nothing… nothing to hide. We have all the facts and I know personally, and these are camps… I have personally gone,” he said here.
According to IBN-Live, Khurshid spoke to reporters in London. He said, “I am here to be honoured by the Oxford University. I am overwhelmed by the affection and honour I got in Oxford over the past two days, while in my own country, third-rate people are doing third-rate things,” clearly taking a pot-shot at Arvind Kejriwal and other detractors.
Following a sting operation by a news channel over the functioning of Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust owned by him and his wife Louise, it was alleged that the NGO was involved in cases of financial misappropriation and forgery, a charge denied by the couple.
Taking on from this, Arvind Kejriwal demanded that Khurshid be asked to resign from the Union Cabinet and be arrested along with his wife.
“Many of the officials that are being quoted or used to support the case that no camps were held, their picture are rare… And to all, I’ll show that picture,” he said.
He also said, “This is all being done because they want to launch their own party. And they believe they will take over the country… My God… they will not be able to take the country. We will fight tooth and nail. Whatever it takes, we will fight. We will not give in to these blackmailers and rabble rousers…”
With inputs from PTI