New Delhi: After putting up a stout defence for his former Law minister Jitender Singh Tomar in the fake degree case for months, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought to absolve himself of blame by claiming that he was kept in the dark and shown the wrong documents. Does it wash? Not really if you realise the issue has been doing the rounds in AAP circles even before the assembly elections. Kejriwal was either being willfully ignorant or he considered Tomar too valuable to be sacrificed and was waiting for the storm to blow over.
Though the matter of Tomar’s fake degree was brought to his notice by former colleagues Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav before the Delhi assembly election, no action was taken. Yogendra Yadav, leader of Swaraj Abhiyan, the splinter group of AAP told Firstpost, "We had raised the issue of Tomar’s fake degrees four months before the election, but no action was taken."
former AAP member Radhakrishnan TR Aiyyer added, "The CM chose to be in the dark, because at that time, it suited him and the party. Those who raised the issue were shown the door. In fact, in November 2014, Prashant ji opposed Tomar’s candidature. When no note was taken, it was taken up with the internal Lokpal."
Speaking to Firstpost earlier, AAP MLA from Timarpur Pankaj Pushkar had said, "We knew about Tomar’s fake degree and it was raised within the party but they were ignored. No action was taken against him and this has badly damaged the public trust that AAP enjoyed.”
Investigations reveal that Tomar not only faked his degrees, but other documents including an RTI reply, which he had used to convince Kejriwal. The investigations have also indicated a wide fake degree racket. The Delhi Police have found Tomar’s association with a series of colleges and universities. It has told a city court that every document produced by Tomar was fabricated and the people in connivance with Tomar in procuring degrees and documents need to be found.
With more skeletons coming out of the closet, the AAP has finally decided to distance itself from Tomar, who’s now in judicial remand. But it was not the case a few weeks ago. Immediately after his arrest by the police, party spokespersons had alleged it to be an act of ‘political vendetta’. Responding to a query on Tomar and other issues earlier, Kejriwal had said, "There is a need for a public trial of the media to expose their bias against the AAP." The AAP chose to replace its internal Lokpal Admiral L Ramdas with a team of three others, when the party came under pressure from the dissidents on this issue.
What made Tomar so special to Kejriwal? The latter’s trust on Tomar could be judged from the portfolios assigned to him initially — Home, Law & Justice, Tourism, Art and Culture. But later, facing heat from a section within the party, Home was taken away from him in April 2015. According to party sources, after Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, he was the most important person in the party.
The AAP chief’s faith in Tomar deterred most of the party members from raising any questions on him.
The real reason why Kejriwal was willing to risk his reputation for Tomar may not be known immediately, but he cannot escape the fact that it was a serious error of judgment. But the explanation that he was kept in the dark does not sound convincing.
Updated Date: Jun 26, 2015 07:31:50 IST