Arun Jaitley and the DDCA Scandal

Arun Jaitley and the DDCA Scandal

Arun Jaitley and the DDCA Scandal

Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) and controversy have an old and ongoing relationship but Finance Minister Arun Jaitley getting embroiled in the recent controversy is certainly a new one.

Arun Jaitley has been in politics since the days he was a student at SRCC in Delhi University, from where he got elected as the President of Delhi University Student’s Union (DUSU). Unlike most other politicians, he has built a reputation that has been free of any accusation of corruption or controversy. Therefore, it does come as a bit of a surprise to see the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal level serious allegations of corruption against Arun Jaitley during his tenure as the President of DDCA. So what is the scandal all about?

The scandal

It all began with the CBI raid on Principal Secretary to Delhi Chief Minister Rajendra Kumar’s office on 15 December, in response to complaints received pertaining to alleged corruption during his earlier tenures. The raids evoked a sharp response from Arvind Kejriwal who accused the CBI of working at the behest of the Prime Minister and went further by calling the PM a ‘coward’ and a ‘psychopath’.

The fallout from this raid was Arvind Kejriwal going public with his accusation that the real reason behind the CBI raid was to gain access to the report lying at the CM’s office on Arun Jaitley’s alleged involvement in allocation of dubious contracts for construction at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, to firms owned by office bearers of the DDCA and for which complete records were not available.

The report also covered cases of forgery related to age verification and allegations of money changing hands during selection of players at various levels. So, what started out as an investigation against the Principal Secretary, soon graduated into a slugfest between the BJP on one side, and AAP and Congress on the other.

Arvind Kejriwal has since called for Arun Jaitley’s resignation and announced that a Commission of Enquiry headed by Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium would investigate the allegations. This of course set off another round of confrontation between the Delhi government and LGs office, which questioned Delhi Government’s authority to investigate DDCA’s affairs without getting LG’s approval.

The Delhi Government had earlier set up a three-member enquiry panel under Principal Secretary-Vigilance, Chetan Sanghi, to look into the financial irregularities and prima facie determine whether it merited further investigation.

Arun Jaitley files Rs 10 crore defamation case

Not one to take corruption allegations lying down, Arun Jaitley in characteristic style, filed a criminal defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal and other members of AAP, seeking Rs 10 crore as damages. Jaitley has stated publicly that he has not indulged in any wrongdoing and the investigation will prove him correct.

Stoking the controversy further was BJP MP from Darbhanga Kirti Azad, himself an ex-India cricketer, accusing Arun Jaitley of being part of the corruption during his tenure as President. He has since been accused by his party members of working at the behest of Sonia Gandhi and AAP, a charge he has vehemently denied.

To be fair to Kirti Azad, he has been raising the issue of corruption within DDCA for years at all forums and this controversy seemed the perfect moment to go after Arun Jaitley. Kirti Azad has been opposing Jaitley’s role and influence within DDCA for long and is part of the rival camp. He has since been suspended by his party although no clear reason has been attributed for his suspension.

Political parties like the TMC have joined Congress and AAP in asking for Arun Jaitley to step down.

Damaging report but Jaitley not named

In a recent development, the three member panel constituted earlier under Chetan Sanghi, submitted a 247 page report which confirms irregularities by DDCA and has recommended that DDCA be suspended by BCCI. The report also confirmed that there were no records of tenders awarding construction contracts and that the beneficiary firms were indeed owned by some office bearers of the DDCA. Cases of forgery relating to age verification were also found to be true.

However, the report does not directly mention Arun Jaitley or his role in any wrongdoing. Based on this, Arun Jaitley and members of BJP have been demanding Arvind Kejriwal issue a public apology to Arun Jaitley.

Kejriwal on his part responded by saying that if he was not guilty then there was no reason for Jaitley to fear an investigation and said that they will continue to pursue the matter.

Social media has been very active with people taking positions for and against Jaitley. However, it must be said that irrespective of the outcome of the investigation, Arun Jaitley continues to enjoy wide support as someone who is both forthright and upright.