Kejriwal dares PM, Sonia to debate, ex-aide challenges him (Roundup)

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 21, 2012 17:32 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) Sidestepping questions put to him a day earlier about his NGO Kabir's foreign funding and his own government service, Arvind Kejriwal Sunday dared Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi to a public debate on corruption.

The Congress dismissed the challenge.

However, high drama was created when former IAC members, including Annie Kohli, 55, confronted Kejriwal at a press conference by questioning his style of functioning.

"When you ask questions from others, why can't they question you?" Kohli asked Kejriwal.

She alleged that Kejriwal has changed his agenda from his protests last year and demand for a Janlokpal bill.

"Kejriwal should clear his stand whether he is a revolutionary or a politician," Kohli said, adding that her group would protest against Kejriwal at Jantar Mantar here.

A surprised Kejriwal heard Kohli and walked away from the press conference without replying.

Later, he said: "I haven't met Annie in the past. I think she was sent by somebody."

The incident happened after Kejriwal alleged that several IAC members were injured in a police crackdown outside Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda's house in Delhi over alleged land deals between Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law Robert Vadra and realty major DLF.

Earlier, Kejriwal asked Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who had posed 27 questions Saturday, to first get his party chief and the prime minister to reply to corruption charges against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Digvijay Singh sought to know why none of the websites of Kejriwal's NGOs carried details of individual and corporate donors, and if NGO Kabir received $172,000 in 2005 and $197,000 in 2008 from Ford Foundation.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat dismissed Kejriwal's challenge. "The prime minister cannot be reacting or responding to each and everything."

Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Kejriwal's tactics were "promoting indiscipline" in society. "This sort of protest, by restoring power connections, is illegal. Are they trying to promote indiscipline in society? If this is not illegal, then what is?" asked Shinde.

Reacting to Digvijaya Singh's questions, Kejriwal said: "Let him first persuade Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to respond to our charges. Then, I will respond to each of his questions."

Digvijay Singh Saturday asked Kejriwal about his NGO's foreign funding and reported violation of service rules while he was an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer.

The Congress general secretary, who Friday called Kejriwal a "self-serving ambitious megalomaniac with scant regard for democracy", asked the activist why he never raised the issue of corruption in states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Kejriwal said his outfit has been highlighting the nexus between the ruling and the opposition parties.

"They can ask us any number of questions about our personal life, we will answer. Then we will ask them. They should also answer in public," Kejriwal said, noting that the Congress leadership did not answer questions on Vadra or on the Lokpal.

"They are bringing up the issues, not on moral grounds but on corrupt grounds. I congratulate Digvijay Singh for confessing this. He has evidence of corruption against BJP leaders and the BJP has evidence against Vadra and Digvijay Singh. But both have an understanding," Kejriwal said.

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