The war of words between social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has continued to escalate in the aftermath of Kejriwal accusing Law Minister Salman Khurshid of misappropriating Rs 71 lakhs ($ 133,924) of funds that were designated for a charity for disabled people that Khurshid and his wife run.
On Monday, Kejriwal produced a list of the so-called beneficiaries of Khurshid’s trust which, according to the accuser, never received the supposed benefits. Kejriwal then demanded Khurshid’s resignation.
Khurshid has disputed the charges vehemently and appears to have the support of the entire Congress Party behind him. In response to the allegations, Khurshid has gone public with photographs that he claims prove his wife Louise Khurshid's trust distributed equipment to the disabled. Khurshid also announced his intent to file multiple defamation lawsuits against, India Today Group, whose media outlets initiated the investigation into Khurshid’s trust, and first made the allegations of corruption.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Kejriwal has questioned the authenticity of the photographs, however, saying they were taken at an event that was held after the period in question.
Many members of Khurshid’s Congress Party have come forth to support him. Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh, for instance, defended Khurshid against the charges and made clear that the Party would not be calling on Khurshid to resign.
Meanwhile, Beni Prasad Verma , the Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh where the trust in question is based, bizarrely dismissed the allegations as inconsequential because the amount in question, Rs 71 lakh, was below the stature of a minister like Khurshid, according to Verma. "If it were a bigger amount, it would be serious. Kejriwal should not bark day and night. A person like Salman Khurshid will not do any scam for Rs 71 lakh… had it been Rs 71 crore, I would take it seriously."
Another Congress leader, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, said that Khurshid has a reputation to be proud of and that the government cannot respond to each and every charge Kejriwal makes given their frequency. "Kejriwal changes his stand by the hour. We cannot respond to each of these charges.”
Still, Kejriwal is demanding that a Special Investigation Team led by retired Supreme Court judges launch a probe into his allegations against Khurshid.