Congress backs Khurshid, says he answered all allegations

Last Updated: Mon, Oct 15, 2012 11:10 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) The Congress Monday backed Law Minister Salman Khurshid terming him an "important minister of UPA-II", and said he has "answered" all allegations of financial impropriety levelled against him by activist Arvind Kejriwal.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said Khurshid at his press conference Sunday "explained everything... I don't think there is anything (more) to be said."

She said Khurshid announced he was taking the "legal way forward" against the India Against Corruption outfit of Kejriwal for alleging financial embezzlement by him and his wife Louise Fernandes with regard to their trust - the Zakir Husain Memorial Trust.

"There is no question of isolating him or not backing him... He is an important member of UPA-2. He has a reputation that he should be proud of and a legacy..." she told reporters after Kejriwal at a rally Monday produced "more evidence" against Khurshid to back his charges.

Khurshid, notably, is the son of Khurshid Alam Khan, former external affairs minister and governor of Karnataka, and maternal grandson of Zakir Hussain, the third president of India.

Soni said Monday that the Uttar Pradesh government led by Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav was looking into the charges, and added that Khurshid "is a colleague and my friend".

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who accompanied Soni, also said that "there was no question of the government distancing itself" from Khurshid.

Soni said that the social welfare ministry had praised the Khurshid-run trust for its work and that it was getting funds from the ministry.

Soni alleged that Kejriwal was levelling charges and "changing them by the hour".

The information and broadcasting minister's support follows that of Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who said Khurshid has already replied to the allegations of embezzlement of funds.

Singh questioned how a draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), alleging that Rs.71 lakh was embezzled by the NGO run by the Khurshids, was leaked to the media.

"It is surprising how the CAG report, before being tabled in parliament, is leaked to the media. Especially if the report is against the Congress, it reaches the media before parliament. It should be probed who is leaking the reports," he said.

Singh said sarcastically that all probes ought to be handed over to IAC leader Kejriwal: "It's like saying there is no account or document, but what Kejriwal is saying is true."

The Congress leader also defended Khurshid's anger at the press conference Sunday. "When an innocent person is attacked without proof, he will be angry, that is natural," Singh said.

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