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Attack on Arun Jaitley will harm AAP in long run: Amit Shah

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New Delhi: BJP President Amit Shah on Monday came in support of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who finds himself caught in a cleft stick over allegations of corruption in the DDCA, warning that the attacks on the latter will harm the Aam Aadmi Party in the long run.

“The whole country knows that Arun ji has spent all his life following certain principles. The AAP is day dreaming if it thinks that due to its allegations his image will be spoiled… The attacks on Arun ji will harm the Aam Aadmi Party in the long run,” Shah said.

This comes as the Congress on Monday demanded a parliamentary probe into alleged DDCA irregularities and sought the resignation of Jaitley, who had been long at its helm, rejected the charges against him as “baseless”.

Bharatiya Janata Party MP and former cricketer Kirti Azad meanwhile called for a time-bound Special Investigation probe into the Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) affairs and claimed that Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress were only using papers/documents compiled by him on the issue.

Congress members walked out of the Lok Sabha after expressing dissatisfaction over Jaitley’s reply to the charges which he dubbed as “wrong and baseless”.

Raising the issue in the house after Question Hour, Congress leader K C Venugopal alleged that Jaitley was aware of the “irregularities” in the DDCA, and said Kirti Azad, in his press conference on Sunday, had given “solid evidence.”

“We demand a Joint Parliamentary Committee (to probe the issue) and his resignation,” he said.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said the Congress member had made an uncalled for statement and personally targeted the finance minister.

In his response, Jaitley said, “We (the DDCA) considered it necessary that the national capital should get a proper stadium”, and for raising resources, 43 corporate boxes were created at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. Further, tickets were sold in advance for 10 years and each seat sold for Rs.1 lakh. He said the DDCA raised another Rs.35 crore by selling space for putting signage.

He said the Board of Control for Cricket in India offered Rs.50 crore for constructing a bigger stadium.

“By tendering process, the contract was given to Engineers India Ltd. The civil works were done for Rs.57 crore. 43 other works were to be done. These were predominantly done through their sub-contractor,” Jaitley said.

The minister, who was frequently interrupted by Congress members, said the stadium was built at a total cost of Rs.114 crore, and in a dig at the Congress, noted the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi was renovated at a cost of Rs.900 crore for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, during the UPA’s rule.

He said the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), which went into the allegations concerning DDCA, did not say that the expenses were wrong.

“The allegations are baseless. They are wrong,” Jaitley said. Referred to the defamation case he has filed against Aam Aadmi Party leaders, he said: “Since this issue has acquired overtones outside the house, (appropriate) remedies have been taken.”

Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Azad said the SFIO had looked into only civil construction works.

He said the Central Bureau of Investigation had issued a notice to the DDCA regarding its affairs between 2008 and 2013 and “whatever the irregularities and criminals, they will come out”.

Referring to the Congress demand for a JPC probe, he said the party should have sought a time-bound inquiry and “SIT over CBI which comes out with its findings in three-four months”.

Talking to reporters later outside the house, Azad said people would have had greater faith if there was a high court-monitored special investigation team (SIT) probe in the DDCA affairs as the CBI was under the administrative control of the central government.

The house had witnessed an adjournment during the question hour with the Congress members coming near the speaker’s podium and raising slogans against the finance minister.

The Rajya Sabha’s proceedings were also disrupted as Congress members demanded Jaitley’s resignation. (With inputs from agencies)

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Blow for Kejriwal: EC recommends disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs

A big blow to the Aam Aadmi Party after the Election Commission recommended disqualification of 20 of its MLAs

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Arvind Kejriwal's party seems to be in trouble after the EC recommended disqualification of 20 of its MLAs. Wikimedia commons
Arvind Kejriwal's party seems to be in trouble after the EC recommended disqualification of 20 of its MLAs. Wikimedia Commons
  • The EC recommended disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs under the ‘office of profit’ pretext
  • AAP looks forward to approaching the Delhi High court
  • The controversy started after Prashant Patel had submitted an application to the President

The Election Commission has recommended the disqualification 20 AAP MLAs. The EC found them guilty of holding an ‘office of profit’. The recommendation has been sent to the President. If cleared, the disqualification would mean that AAP’s strength in Delhi Assembly will reduce from 67 to 47.

The 20 AAP legislators were accused of being unconstitutionally appointed as parliamentary secretaries to assist various ministers of the Delhi government. The EC’s opinion on this matter means that the AAP legislators are set to be disqualified, which could soon force a mini Assembly election in the national capital.

The party now looks forward to approach the Delhi High Court, pleading that the recommendation be struck down. Wikimedia Commons
The party now looks forward to approaching the Delhi High Court, pleading that the recommendation is struck down. Wikimedia Commons

“This is unprecedented. The MLAs in question didn’t get a chance to present their case before the EC. In fact, we didn’t hear the news from the EC, but news channels,” AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said.

ALSO READ: Anna Hazare comes out in open support about Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

Opposition parties have demanded the immediate resignation of Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister of Delhi on moral ground.

The ‘office of profit’ controversy had started after a lawyer, Prashant Patel, had filed an application in 2015 to the President’s office. It questioned the appointment of AAP MLAs as parliamentary secretaries.

The Congress had filed a petition in Election Commission in 2016 as a follow-up, based on this application. The opposition party sought disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs.

Kejriwal had appointed MLAs in March 2015 and his government passed an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, in June 2015. Wikimedia Commons

AAP had argued that this post did not qualify as an office of profit as there is no monetary benefit attached to it. But then President Pranab Mukherjee refused to give assent, following which the appointments were set aside by the Delhi High Court in September 2016, declaring them illegal since the order had been passed “without concurrence/approval of the Lt Governor”.

ALSO READ: Discontentment in the Aam Aadmi Party is resulting in Resignation and withdrawals from the party

In the first reaction to the EC recommendation, AAP spokesperson Nagendar Sharma tweeted:

Here’s the list of 20 MLAs who have been recommended to be disqualified: 

1. Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli)
2. Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar)
3. Praveen Kumar (Jangpura)
4. Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar)
5. Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka)
6. Sanjeev Jha (Burari)
7. Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar)
8. Sukhvir Singh (Mundka)
9. Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar)
10. Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar)
11. Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk)
12. Rajesh Rishi (Janakpuri)
13. Anil Kumar Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar)
14. Manoj Kumar (Kondli)
15. Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh)
16. Avtar Singh (Kalkaji)
17. Vijendar Garg Vijay (Rajinder Nagar)
18. Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur)
19. Sharad Kumar (Narela)
20. Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar)