New Delhi: The clamour for Law Minister Salman Khurshid's resignation is growing with both the Opposition and India Against Corruption saying he must quit before the allegations against his NGO go in court. While the Congress claims it is ready to slug it out in court and not on the streets, IAC activists are adamant on Khurshid's resignation, saying that he could influence the case against his trust.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sudheendra Kulkarni said, "Salman Khurshid must step down on moral grounds."How can you allow him to remain the law minister who holds the key to the prosecution department," questioned senior lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan.
Senior lawyer Aryan Sundaram added, "If this had happened 25 years ago, we wouldn't have had this debate because whoever the minister had been, would have resigned." However, the Congress party continued to stand by Khurshid. "Why is everybody jumping the gun, Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit questioned.
Former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh also met Khurshid on Monday evening at his residence. Batting for the Law Minister and his wife Louise, Singh said a "media trial" against the couple was "unfair". "Despite Louise Khurshid seeking a probe, you are going ahead with the media trial...it is unfair," he said.
Minister of state in the PMO V Narayanasamy also said that Salman Khurshid would not resign unless allegations against him were proved by an inquiry being conducted by the Uttar Pradesh government. "The Law Minister will not resign unless the allegations against him are proved. The government of Uttar Pradesh is conducting an impartial inquiry into the allegations. Let us wait for the report," Narayanasamy said.
Cautioning that jumping to conclusion on the basis of allegations is "unethical," Narayanasamy said the minister and his wife had already clarified certain facts on Sunday. He said he was optimistic that the people would teach a lesson to India Against Corruption leader Arvind Kejriwal for making false charges of siphoning off funds by an NGO run by Khurshid and his wife in the elections.
Gearing up for another political fight, Kejriwal, who ended his four-day-old protest in Delhi against Khurshid on Monday, announced a fresh campaign against him in his UP constituency Farrukhabad from November 1. Kejriwal, who on Sunday said he would produce more "evidence" against Khurshid whom he has accused of forgery and embezzlement of funds through his NGO Zakir Hussain Trust, said IAC members tried to locate the people given wheelchairs, hearing aids and tricycles by the trust, but found most of them to be "fictitious".
Kejriwal levelled fresh charges against Khurshid, alleging that one Pankaj Kumar from Mainpuri whose name figures in the list of beneficiaries did not get any help from the NGO. At the protest site, Vivek Yadav, an activist from Mainpuri, claimed that they had searched for beneficiaries in the locality of Dewar block but they could not locate two names -- Santosh Kumari and Sasi Mohan -- who were said to have been provided with wheel-chairs.
Kejriwal alleged that there was a quid pro quo between the Congress, which is supporting Khurshid, and SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav who is facing a disproportionate assets case in the Supreme Court. Akhilesh Yadav was guarded in his response over the controversy saying that one should await the outcome of the probe before drawing any conclusion. "It will not be appropriate to comment on the matter as inquiry is already underway. It was started in previous (BSP) regime. How can how comment without outcome of the inquiry?" Yadav said.
In a bid to find out the real story behind the controversy, CNN-IBN also travelled to Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr district and found startling facts which could create more trouble for Khurshid. Talking to CNN-IBN, the Bulandshahr's handicapped welfare officer said his predecessor never signed on the documents of the beneficiaries shown by the Zakir Hussain Trust, owned by the Union Minister and his wife. He claimed that his predecessor had told the state government that her signature on a report on equipment distributed to 42 disabled people was forged.
Announcing the end of his protest at Parliament Street, Kejriwal claimed that they have not received a response from Prime Minister's Office for an appointment and now they are shifting their battle to Farrukhabad. "Now the volunteers will go to Farrukhabad. We are getting more documents against Khurshid. Public will make a disabled person fight against him in the next elections and defeat him," he said.
(With additional information from PTI)