New Delhi: Activist Arvind Kejriwal said today that Law Minister Salman Khurshid and his wife, Louise, have been indicted in a sting aired by a television channel, Aaj Tak, last night. Mr Kejriwal, who launched a new anti-graft political party last week, said the minister must resign and his wife should be arrested. He said that on Friday he will lead a group of people to “gherao” or surround in protest the residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
The allegation against the minister is that an NGO headed by him, and in which his wife is the chief functionary, siphoned off lakhs of money that was meant to help physically challenged people in Uttar Pradesh. Mr Khurshid and his wife have issued a statement denying the accusations. They said it is “painful and sad to see the work of the entire trust being tarnished” by the statements of a few individuals, “the veracity of whose claims has not been established.”
Mr Khurshid’s statement also declares that last month his wife had requested chief minister Akhilesh Yadav for a detailed investigation into allegations that the trust had forged signatures of government officials to establish that its funds were being spent as intended.
Mr Khurshid has been elected to Parliament from Farrukhabad; earlier this year, his wife lost the assembly election from there, though she had represented it in the past.
The Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust is registered as an NGO at Mr Khurshid’s government residence in New Delhi and his wife and former Uttar Pradesh MLA Louise Khurshid is its chief functionary. It receives money from several ministries to buy and distribute hearing aids and mechanized tricycles. In January, an inquiry was ordered by the UP government into alleged embezzlement by the NGO in collusion with government officials. The investigation was prompted by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
Reacting to the sting, Mr Kejriwal said, “We demand an urgent FIR. His wife, who is the project director, should be arrested. Because they are a powerful family, they will destroy evidence and put pressure on witnesses.” He added that it was “sad that the country’s law minister heading an NGO that is involved in corruption” and that he should resign immediately.
He also took a swipe at Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, saying he should register an FIR and follow up on the inquiry the state government has ordered. “If this doesn’t happen, does it mean the Centre is helping Mulayam and vice-versa?” There are corruption cases against Akhilesh’s father and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav that are currently being investigated by the CBI.
Mr Kejriwal has already rattled the government and the Congress party by targeting Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra with a series of corruption allegations.