NEW DELHI: As AAP escalated its attack, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today hit back on allegations of irregularities against him in the DDCA affairs, saying it was a propaganda technique of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to deflect attention when he himself was in the "dock".
Jaitley broke his silence by writing a blog and addressing the media, a day after Congress and AAP targeted him and asked him to quit over allegations of financial bungling in the Delhi District Cricket Association (DDCA) which he had headed for 14 years till 2013.
Referring to the controversy raked up by Kejriwal over the CBI action against his Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar, he accused the Chief Minister of resorting to "false propaganda continuously".
"There is no grain of truth in the allegations. I have consistently practised highest standards of probity in whatever positions I have held," he said at a press conference as AAP again attacked him today and asked him to quit immediately.
Rejecting allegations against him, the Finance Minister said no personal allegations were ever made against him nor did he feel the need of contradicting it.
He said today he has felt the need for speaking in order to counter "any unsubstantiated non-specific allegations".
"I have left cricket administration in 2013. By referring to some facts of 2014 and 2015, he cannot drag me in," Jaitley said.
"Even though I am not concerned with cricket administration since 2013, a Member of Parliament has been writing to various government bodies with regard to Delhi's cricket affairs.
"The UPA government seized the opportunity and referred the complaints to the SFIO which investigated all his complaints over a period of time and submitted a detailed report on March 21, 2013.
"The report concluded in relation to the DDCA being registered under the Companies Act that: thus, in a nutshell, there are certain irregularities/non-compliance or technical violations, but no fraud (was) noticed as alleged," he said quoting from the report.
The BJP fielded HRD Minister Smriti Irani to say that the party "resolutely stands behind" the finance minister who has an "impeccable" political record. The DDCA also held a press conference to strongly defend Jaitley.
Not satisfied with Jaitley's reaction again demanded that either Jaitley resign or he be "removed" to from the Cabinet to enable independent probe into alleged corruption in Delhi District Cricket Association.
Kejriwal said Jaitley's assertion that AAP's allegations against him are "unsubstantiated and non-specific" could not be treated as "gospel truth" as the charges against him were "very very serious".
"Can Jaitley ji's denial in press be taken as gospel truth? Very serious allegations against him. Why is he running away from investigations? If Jaitley ji were let off without investigations on basis of his press denial, then should all coal and 2G accused also be similarly let off?" Kejriwal asked in a series of tweets.
Asking why Kejriwal should place himself as a shield in front of an official facing investigation, Jaitley said "It is a part of propaganda technique to deflect attention when you yourself are in the dock. Finding himself acting as shield to cover an officer under investigation, the Delhi Chief Minister attempted to focus attention on me."
The Delhi Chief Minister, who has accused the CBI of raiding his office to get hold of a file that "traps" Jaitley, claimed that the allegations against the Finance Minister are "very very serious".
Earlier in the day, AAP alleged huge financial bungling in DDCA during Jaitley's tenure as its chief, saying large amounts were siphoned off through fake companies besides other irregularities including in team selection.
At a press conference here, the AAP leaders, quoting from reports of Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), DDCA's internal probe committee and a Delhi Government-appointed inquiry panel, accused Jaitley of giving "direct and indirect" consent to "massive corruption" in the cricket body.
"The bunglings had happened under direct or indirect consent of Arun Jaitley during his tenure as DDCA chief. Prime Minister Narendra Modi must ask Jaitley to resign to ensure fair probe as some of the competent agencies to investigate the are under Finance Ministry," said AAP Spokesperson Raghav Chadha, a Chartered Accountant, who was flanked by a number of leaders.