New Delhi: 6.04 pm: Sushil Kumar Gautam, district handicapped welfare officer, Bulanshahar, tells CNN-IBN that his predecessor had told the state government that her signature on a report on equipment distributed to 42 disabled people were forged. The block development officers or the BDOs are now conducting a physical check on the list of beneficiaries. So far, 2 of the 4 BDOs have submitted their reports. In Sayana, all four named have benefited while in Jehangirabad block, only 1 had benefited. Officials also say Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust did not give them any information on camps it held.
5.50 pm: Making a U-turn from his earlier stand, Congress leader Beni Prasad Verma on Monday said that even one rupee constitutes corruption.
4.50 pm: Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said that the UPA government is not willing to do anything against Salman Khurshid. "Now we will go to Khurshid's constituency Farrukhabad and launch agitation against him," he said.
4.20 pm: Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit on Monday defended Salman Khurshid, saying "Khurshid has very effectively defended himself with facts. It's clear that allegation against him and his wife are not true."
4.15 pm: On the allegations of corruption against Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, said, "There should be proper enquiry into this allegation."
4.10 pm: Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said that they will expose BJP president Nitin Gadkari in the next 3-4 days. He also said that they will start the agitation again from November 1 and hold a rally in Manesar on October 30. "We will expose another politician on Wednesday at 5 pm," he said.
3.51 pm: IAC suspends protests, says that it is not ending the agitation and will take the protest against Khurshid to his constituency Farrukhabad.
3.30 pm: Arvind Kejriwal says he hopes that Salman Khurshid will resign as the Law Minister. He slams Beni Prasad for his bizarre remark saying one cannot expect anything from the government. "The government has become very arrogant. I had hoped that since Khurshid is the Law Minister, there will be some action. But we have been protesting for four weeks and the government still supports him and says there is no need for a probe," Kejriwal says, adding that he will start a campaign against Khurshid in Farrukhabad and urge the people to field a differently-abled candidate against him in the 2014 elections.
3.15 pm: Congress leader Beni Prasad says that Rs 71 lakh is a very small amount for a minister. "If it were a bigger amount, it would be serious," he says. He adds, "Kejriwal should not bark day and night. A person like Salman Khurshid will not do any scam for Rs 71 lakh... had it been Rs 71 crore, I would take it seriously."
2.30 pm: Congress leader Ambika Soni says that Khurshid has a reputation to be proud of and that the government cannot respond to each and every charge of Kejriwal as he keeps changing his stand. "Kejriwal changes his stand by the hour. We cannot respond to each of them. Salman has a reputation to be proud of. There is no question of the party distancing itself from him."
2.00 pm: Senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan calls Khurshid arrogant. "Khurshid is arrogant. There are three reports and the Centre served a show cause notice only after the UP government's report. But they don't think of replying. The CAG also went thrice, but Salman did not think it fit to answer," he says.
1.15 pm: Social Welfare Minister Mukul Wasnik says that funds were sanctioned for Khurshid's NGO on the basis of merit in 2003 by the NDA government. He further says that the funds will not be scrapped.
12.30 pm: Congress defends its Law Minister. Party General Secretary Digvijaya Singh says that the TV channel that did the sting operation has been proven wrong. He further says that there is no question of Khurshid resigning. Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav says they will decide on the matter after the completion of the probe.
12.16 pm: Kejriwal says, "We want to know what the PM has to say on this. We will decide our future strategy based on that."
12.15 pm: Kejriwal says that Congress party is so powerful that it can force anybody to speak.
11.30 am: Kejriwal says that Congress too is involved with Khurshid in the scam. He further alleges a direct quid pro quo between Samajwadi Party (SP) and Salman Khurshid. He says that the UP government will save Khurshid as he is fighting the case of SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav in a disproportionate assets case.
11.20 am: Arvind Kejriwal demands SIT probe under three retired SC judges into the allegations. He says that in Bulandshahr, differently-abled people claimed that they got equipment just two days back. "Many of the beneficiaries named by Khurshid cannot be traced. One of the beneficiaries was never physically-disabled," says Kejriwal.
11.15 am: Kejriwal addresses the crowd at Jantar Mantar, says that the photos shown as proof by Khurshid are false. "The photos are from 2010 while the scam happened in 2011," says Kejriwal.
10.30 am: Arvind Kejriwal set to present proof against Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid.
The war between Law Minister Salman Khurshid and India Against Corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal intensified on Monday as Kejriwal produced more proof against Khurshid. While Khurshid on Sunday showed photographs to prove that his wife Louise Khurshid's trust distributed equipment for the differently abled, Kejriwal claimed the photographs were of an event held later. Meanwhile, Khurshid will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday.
Khurshid, who was in London, arrived in Delhi on Sunday morning and demanded that Kejriwal and TV Today Chairman and MD Aroon Purie should resign. IAC activists were already present at the airport and as the minister arrived, they started shouting slogans in protest. While the BJP, breaking its silence on the matter, demanded a fair probe into the allegations, MoS PMO V Narayanasamy said that Kejriwal didn’t know the meaning of democracy and that he wanted "cheap publicity".
IAC activists also protested outside the residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at 7 Race Course Road and an angry Kejriwal vowed to teach Khurshid a lesson in the elections. He also challenged the Union Minister to answer his five questions:
- Your organisation had given a letter to the Government of India and the UP government in 2009-10 recommending satisfactory and good work done by your organisation and was a recommendation to sanction more funds. In this letter UP government’s special secretary Ram Raj Singh had signed. But in the reports published in the media, Ram Raj Singh had said that these were not his signatures. Ram Raj Singh also says that the letter was written on March 24, 2011 but he retired in January 2011. Do you agree that your organisation forged the letter to get next set of grants?
- Your organisation had produced an affidavit from a former CDO JB Singh, wherein JB Singh states that your organisation is doing good work in UP. Whereas JB Singh says that affidavit is forged and he had not given any affidavit. Do you agree that affidavit is forged, if yes then why did you attach forged affidavit?
- The Akhilesh Yadav government on June 12, 2012 wrote to Government of India wherein they raised question of forged signatures of scores of officers. According to you, are these papers true or not?
- Your organisation has claimed that they had conducted camps on certain dates in districts, but the UP government is saying that there were no camps conducted on the dates mentioned by you, neither was any material distributed by you.
- In your organisation's list, there are details of many handicapped people who according to you have got materials from camps organised by your organization. But these handicapped people claim that they never got any materials. Would you resign from the post of Law Minister and from politics as well?
While the Union Minister chose not to answer any of these questions, he addressed a press conference along with his wife presenting pictures and list of camps the trust held for differently-abled at various places as proof. Khurshid, flanked by his wife Louise who is the Project Director of the Zakir Hussain Trust, said the Uttar Pradesh government, at their behest, was already probing whether an affidavit signed by a state government official JB Singh carried forged signatures as has been alleged.
"Nothing on Rs 71 lakh can be proved… Not a word can be proved. They can scream, scream and scream till they turn blue in their face," said the Law Minister at the one-and-a-half hour long press conference, where he was seen losing his temper a number of times. Asked whether he would resign, Khurshid dubbed it as a "disputed question of journalist ethics and political ethics". "I will submit my resignation if Aroon Purie (TV Today Chairman-cum-Managing Director) also steps down," he said.
The Law Minister said that he and his wife are ready for "any inquiry by any authority". "It can be CAG…Inquiry should find out who is responsible for this. But the inquiry should cover the role of India Today group as well," he reiterated. Highlighting his "hurt", he said he would meet the Prime Minister. "I will certainly share my experience with the Prime Minister. He is my leader in the government. He has the right to know. He will certainly know," he said.
An intended beneficiary Rangey Mistry, who figured in the "sting operation" conducted by TV Today's Aaj Tak channel, was also produced before the press. The man said that he had received a hearing aid gadget from the Zakir Hussain Trust two years back, amid cheering by the Law Minister and others. Khurshid said others who figured in the "sting operation" will also appear before media. "Somebody, somewhere sitting in some office, which is feeding India Today is also the person who is worried about the inquiry. Too much will come out. And what they have been doing for years, will immediately be exposed," he said.
Referring to his defamation case against TV Today Group, the minister said, "We have gone to court in a civilised manner... Let there be an in-depth inquiry to find who is responsible for what." TV Today Group, however, has already issued a statement, saying it stands by the "veracity" of its report and would "defend" it.
"This is not a matter of debate and opinion. Nor is it a personal attack as it is being construed to be by Mr Khurshid but is in larger public interest... This is an investigation based on hard and incontro-vertible facts emerging out of documents of the state and central governments," TV Today's statement said.
The press conference, however, couldn't pacify Kejriwal and IAC activists who said that the minister was misleading people. "He did not answer any of the five questions raised by us. He says he won't answer to the people of the streets…He is misleading people," Kejriwal said addressing protesters at Parliament Street. Kejriwal also demanded a probe by a retired Supreme Court judge into the allegations but said Khurshid should resign and be arrested before any probe alleging "he is a powerful person and that he can pressurise witnesses and erase evidence".
"If the Prime Minister feels that there is no need for Khurshid to resign, let it be. Then we will field a disabled person as a candidate against him and defeat him in the next elections," he added. On Khurshid's providing photographs to claim that camps were held by his NGO, the IAC member claimed that the photographs he provided were that of 2010-11 fiscal. "The allegations are about 2009-10. He has been caught," he claimed.
"In his press conference, Khurshid produced a man who appeared in the sting to rebut the claims he made in the sting. We won't allege that he changed his statement due to pressure but some people feel that Khurshid is a powerful person...," he said. Addressing his supporters, Kejriwal said that he will produce a witness on Monday to prove that no camps were held by the NGO.
The Centre and the Government continue to stand by Khurshid. I&B Minister Ambika Soni, MoS in the PMO Narayanasamy and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh have defended him. The party has said that there's no question of Khurshid stepping down as it feels his resignation would only strengthen Kejriwal's campaign and set a precedent in case other Congress ministers are named by Kejriwal in future. The Congress strategy now is to speak to allies like NCP chief Sharad Pawar to get them on board. Khurshid will be filing lawsuits against Kejriwal and TV Today.
Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal spent another night at the Jantar Mantar in the national capital. He and other India Against Corruption members Kumar Vishwas and Gopal Rai have been protesting there since Saturday night. They have said that they will not budge till Khurshid steps down.