The paintball guns of scandal are splotching ministers in the Kejriwal Cabinet one after the other, leaving AAP spokespersons gasping for explanations. Sex troubles got Delhi’s Women and Child Welfare Minister Sandeep Kumar the sack, and a woman has filed a complaint of harassment, but his woes are travelling far. The Aam Admi is accused of flying personal secretary Praveen Singh to New York at government expense to assist his wife Ritu Verma’s pregnancy and postnatal care. Sources say Kumar did not disclose Ritu’s pregnancy to the US Embassy. Kumar also allegedly hid information on his overseas trip to the state administration. His government denies any knowledge about the minister travelling abroad at state government’s expense to collect party funds.
Sources said Sacked AAP minister Sandeep Kumar, holding passport number K649210, made two trips to the US—first with his pregnant wife on April 22 by Kuwait Airways and the second by Air India on June 24.
“The fact that his wife was pregnant was not disclosed to the authorities concerned of the US Embassy in New Delhi,” they said. When Kumar went to the US for the second time in an official capacity, the state government said it was “not informed and this information needs to be verified”.
Documents in the possession of The Sunday Standard show Kumar misused his official position to make the pregnancy of his adored wife—he had confessed to touching her feet every morning before he went to work—easier. The ministry remained headless until May 6 when he returned from the Big Apple. On May 3, while in New York, he summoned his personal secretary Praveen Singh in the Delhi government to fly to the US on the taxpayers’ money. Three days later, he returned to Delhi and directed the PS to admit his wife in Elmhurst Hospital. On June 10, she gave birth to a baby boy, Rudra Pratap Singh. A copy of the child’s birth certificate proclaiming him to be a US citizen is with this paper.
In New York area, it costs between $3,550 and $4,300 for a normal delivery, and $1,100 and $1,200 for the newborn's care. For the uninsured, a hospital can charge 115 per cent of what it accepts from Medicare for the same services. It is not known if Ritu was insured for childbirth. Though hospitals do not disclose their charges to the public, Dartmouth, one of the few places that posts its prices, says it charges the uninsured about $11,000 for a normal delivery and newborn's care.
Even after Sandeep left, Ritu and Praveen continued to stay on in New York with Baby Rudra at the Delhi government’s expense. Sources said the minister went to the US again on the pretext of meeting AAP members overseas. “It is alleged that during his stay in the US, he got in touch with many Indians and collected donations and other valuables in the name of the party,” said sources. On July 10, Sandeep, Ritu, baby Rudra and Praveen returned as one happy family to Delhi by Air India.
The crime branch is probing Kumar’s jaunts. It has sought details from immigration about his stay in New York and plans to approach the hospital where the child was born. The police will also question his personal staff.
Of six cabinet ministers, four have been sacked by Kejriwal in the last one-and-a-half years for various charges.