The current turmoil in Delhi, with the local ruling AAP and the central BJP government, consists of a whirlwind of events which have led to the present scenario. Two events are centric to this situation: the allegations against the Delhi District Cticket Association (DDCA), and hence, against the current union finance minister Arun Jaitley, who was the president of DDCA for thirteen years (there were Congress ministers like Rajeev Shukla, Naveen Jindal and Arvinder Singh Lovely in the DDCA too), and the CBI raid of Kejriwal’s principal secretary, Rajendra Kumar, which was held by the Delhi High Court to be against the Code of Criminal Procedure of India and beyond the power of the CBI. Besides that, the charges against Kumar as a bureaucrat predate Kejriwal becoming chief minister, and the subsequent raid on Kejriwal was deemed absolutely unnecessary by the court.
The DDCA is a private limited company which promotes cricket in and around Delhi, and has been alleged of several issues of mismanagement and fraud. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office launched an investigation which exposed a severe misappropriation of funds, non-payment of entertainment tax, which they claimed that they were under the belief that it was not applicable to them, and several flaws in the construction of the Feroz Shah Stadium. The Delhi Government appointed a three-member panel to probe the matter further, which was headed by former Solicitor-General, Mr. Gopal Subramaniam, respected for his integrity.
Being a private limited company does not absolve the Government of its responsibility as the DDCA and its parent body, the BCCI, have been set up under state legislations and although they do not require funding from the governments, they do require their permissions to function as the official state cricket organizations. Furthermore, BCCI has also been involved in the controversy of not paying tax, which it claimed an exemption from as it was supposedly registered as a charitable organization. After this was discovered, they paid up some of their tax arrears, but not entirely.
Perhaps, the AAP was about to expose the corruption in the DDCA, of which the central government got a whiff, leading to a raid on Kejriwal’s office, so that the DDCA expose can be described as retaliatory. This CBI raid was slammed by the court, saying that it cannot be cloaked with “divine powers” to do as it pleases, and held that they cannot retain the documents in the garb of the argument, when it was out of its power to seize the same, and ordered it to return the original documents.
The BJP’s stand on this issue is absurd, as it alleges that the DDCA probe was ordered only as a way to deflect attention from the CBI raid, which tarnishes the reputation of the AAP, and Jaitley even went on record to call this the propaganda of the AAP on the day they released documents to expose them. Just because these events followed each other does not debunk the truth of the affairs in the DDCA, and the evidence unearthed clearly suggests that it is not mere allegations. It would only be logical to go by what the evidence shows, rather than unnecessarily trying to deny what has happened.
The DDCA has been accused of spending a staggering sum of 1440 million rupees on the renovation of the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi, which was earlier estimated to cost 240 million rupees. Further, they had not paid entertainment tax for two consecutive years, their excuse being that they were unaware of the fact that they were charged the same, and they did not have proper, structured balance sheets to show on record. It is also alleged that 15.5 million rupees was transferred to unlisted companies, and 1000 bottles of liquor were reported stolen but were used to appease the Delhi police.
An enquiry by Justice Mukul Mudgal slammed the affairs of the DDCA, for, among several other things, a lack of pertinent reports for the previous matches. The tickets for these matches, which were being sold by an online platform, suffered a technical snag where several seats were blocked leaving very few options, no balance sheets prepared for the 2014-15 period and non-renewal of contracts for corporate houses.
Although Jaitley is not directly accused of corruption, the fact that he spends 30 crore rupees to run a company, his employees suddenly start driving a Mercedes instead of their standard scooters and the mere fact that the beautiful Dharmashala stadium was built only at the cost 20 crore rupees is possibly quite indicative of what the situation really was, and even if it can’t be held against him, as the president, it is assumed by many that he had to have known some part of what was happening. He conveniently chose not to run for president in 2013, when the Companies Act was amended and the punishment for fraud was increased to a jail sentence instead of fines, and took up the role of patron-in-chief instead, which was as influential as being a president minus the risks.
Jaitley’s tactics of refuting the allegations against him came after Kejriwal sent out a series of tweets about CBI reading the DDCA file in his office. The DDCA went out of its way to further defend Jaitley, saying that nothing has been found in the SFIO investigation that suggests that any funds were embezzled under his tenure- only procedural lapses were proven.
Jaitley also sought out the support of his fellow union ministers, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi also backing him and saying that he will come out of this “with flying colours”. This led to the Congress pushing for Jaitley to resign as that was what Advani had done, and came back only with a clean chit from the Supreme Court.
Another important issue is that it was a BJP member, Kirti Azad, who has been talking about these allegations for a long time, who went ahead and demanded CBI probe and alleged the corruption in the DDCA. His actions have been defined as against the party’s discipline, as having crossed the “lakshman rekha” and he was also suspended, though those in the BJP like Babulal Gaur, home minister of MP, and Ramsevak Paitra, home minister of Chattisgarh, passing indecent remarks about crimes against women, Om Prakash Dhankar, agriculture minister of Haryana, calling farmers committing suicide cowards, our union law minister Sadananda Gowda laughing when a question about the Vyapam deaths (which the BJP government of Madhya Pradesh failed to prevent repeatedly) was posed to him and saying that the matter was trivial, not to forget the likes who try to define in concrete terms what Indian culture is and spew venom against Indian citizens of the minority religious groupings despite supposedly being repeatedly warned have not been meted out that treatment, as if accusing Jaitley and demanding more transparency is a bigger wrong! Besides, Azad has also said that the Congress members in the DDCA were also in the wrong.
In the series of these events, it’s clear that despite clear evidence that shows the corruption prevalent in the DDCA during Jaitley’s time, the BJP is keen on deflecting any responsibility and are using the same old statement of how Kejriwal is avenging the CBI raid. It does not take much to understand that the DDCA is at fault, and there is legitimate suspicion about the involvement of Arun Jaitley as well (and he at least should take moral responsibility), and it is irrelevant whether these investigations were started due to some other event, as the investigation has been transparent and just throughout. There is nothing evidently wrong with demanding Jaitley’s resignation as well, as that would be the best course of action in these circumstances.
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