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War of Arrows In Kejriwal’s Delhi

As far as the charges against Rajender Kumar, his principal secretary are concerned, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should extend all cooperation to the investigating agency CBI. During the period 2007-14 Kumar in his various official capacities has been accused of setting up a number of companies in connivance with some local businessmen to give work contracts to them without tenders at a huge loss to the Delhi government. These companies were empanelled with public sector units to get government work without tenders. He has been accused of corruption in the purchase of computers. CBI found Rs 3 lakh in foreign currency and Rs 2.4 lakh in rupees from Kumar’s home. The CBI has registered a case against him for alleged criminal conspiracy with others.

Kejriwal has no ground to cry ‘political conspiracy’ as it is not the BJP that has filed a complaint against his principal secretary but Ashish Joshi, an official who was appointed and sacked by Kejriwal as member-secretary of the Delhi Dialogue Commission. Joshi’s complaint said the CBI should investigate Rajender Kumar’s dealings when he was an officer with the departments of education, IT and health in the Delhi government. Joshi alleged that certain private companies had benefited during his postings in the last five years. Veteran social worker Anna Hazare rightly questioned Kejriwal why he had not checked on the antecedents of Rajender Kumar before appointing him his principal secretary. Kejriwal has not spoken anything that would suggest that he regretted appointing Kumar. On the contrary he said, “Rajender Kumar is one of our most trusted officers. To raid him is to raid the CM” – a comment which suggests partisanship and prejudice. It also suggests a load of self-righteousness – that an officer selected by him to be his principal secretary cannot breach his trust and indulge in corruption.

Kejriwal alleges that the CBI raid was an excuse to search his office and find evidence against him for the Centre. Let us assume that that was really the case. Even then Kejriwal should not have defended Rajender Kumar. He should have said that the CBI must investigate fully into the charges against Kumar and that he was ready to extend all cooperation to the investigating agency. He should have separated himself from Kumar. Then his case against the CBI acting as a “political tool” of the central government to check his files would have stood some ground. Even though the CBI has denied that it did not raid the Delhi Chief Minister’s office but the office of his principal secretary Rajender Kumar, Kejriwal would have scored political points if only he had said the CBI must go on with the investigation into the charges against Kumar.

As far as the CBI is concerned, it has denied that it has acted at the instance of the central government. It is true that the Supreme Court has struck down the legal provision under which the CBI has to take permission from the central government for investigating any officer of the joint secretary level and above. Yet the CBI is a government agency, and its director does not live on a separate island of governance. The director could not be so adventurist or naïve as not to know the political implications of raiding the office of the principal secretary of the Delhi Chief Minister in times when he has been exchanging verbal grenades daily with ministers of the central government. There might not be any written orders, but verbal consultation before raid between the director and central government ministers cannot be ruled out.

Kejriwal has levelled charges against the CBI that their officials were reading files on the inquiry into the corruption scandal relating to the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) that involved Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who was DDCA president. When the CBI denied having taken the DDCA files, Kejriwal alleged that they might have taken a copy. Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday called for Arun Jaitley’s resignation, alleging that he “had been siphoning off funds” for years as DDCA president. AAP claimed that a budget of Rs 24 crore was approved to construct a cricket stadium but Rs 114 crore was spent on it. The party also alleged that payments were made to companies that did not do the work for which they were set up. The scam involved siphoning off money through fake companies between 1999 and 2013. Jaitley and BJP have denied the allegations. But if Kejriwal and AAP have the files of an inquiry that establishes prime facie charges against Jaitley, they should file an FIR against him and get their anti-corruption wing to start investigations. Kejriwal might look more credible if he at the same time backs investigation into corruption charges against his principal secretary.

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