As Law Minister Salman Khurshid held a dramatic press conference showing pictures and documents of camps held by his NGO as proof that allegations against him are baseless, activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal continued his attack against Mr Khurshid by questioning the 'evidence' produced by the Law Minister. "He (Salman Khurshid) must have conducted a few camps but the majority of them didn't take place... I question all the proof he put out," Mr Kejriwal said.
Mr Kejriwal alleged that the photographs shown by Mr Khurshid were from 2010-11 fiscal. "The photos he showed today do not come under the time frame. The allegations are about 2009-10. He has been caught," he claimed.
The activist-turned-politician, who recently launched his yet-to-be-named party, said he will produce fresh evidence against Mr Khurshid on Monday.
"In his press conference, Khurshid produced a man who appeared in the sting to rebut the claims he made in the sting. We won't allege that he changed his statement due to pressure but some people feel that Khurshid is a powerful person," he said.
Mr Kejriwal also asked why Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi are silent on the issue. "Why is the Prime Minister silent over the issue? Does he think Khurshid needs to resign?" he asked.
Mr Khurshid along with his wife, Louise, had held a press meet in the Capital on Sunday where he produced pictures and documents, saying 34 camps were held by the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, headed by him and run by his wife, in 2009 and 2010 across several districts in the state. The trust is meant to help people with special needs in Uttar Pradesh.
"We have a list of all the people who held camps or you can say that all these people are lairs...nobody said that the camps were symbolic...the allegations are that the camps were not held at all," Mr Khurshid had said.
The raging war of words is centred around a controversy over alleged financial malpractices in the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust. The allegations that were aired recently in a sting carried by a Hindi news channel claimed that the NGO forged signatures of government officials to attest that the funds were being used as intended. Since then, Mr Kejriwal has been vociferous in his demand for Mr Khurshid's resignation. "We need non-corrupt leaders; not someone like Salman Khurshid," he had said on Saturday.
Mr Kejriwal had, earlier on Sunday, also accused the Akhilesh Yadav-led Uttar Pradesh government of colluding with the Centre in an attempt to shield the Union Minister. He was speaking at a sit-in protest at Parliament Street in central Delhi.
A draft report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) invigorated his campaign against Mr Khurshid. The draft report, accessed by NDTV, pointed out several irregularities in the utilisation of Central grants given to the trust. It says that in 2009-10, a Central grant of Rs. 71.5 lakh - meant for distributing aid and appliances to differently-abled people in 17 districts of Uttar Pradesh - wasn't fully utilised, with the trust giving out wrong information. The draft report also suspects fraud in the accounts of Mr Khurshid's trust.
Earlier, his wife, who is in the eye of the storm for being at the helm as the alleged scam played out at the NGO, told NDTV, "I do not believe any signatures have been forged... Khurshid seems to have been made a victim of conspiracy... Why should Salman resign, what has he done wrong?" (Watch
She also dared Mr Kejriwal to visit the camps run by her NGO to prove the alleged bunglings. "Arvind Kejriwal is an ambulance chaser...he is making all sorts of allegations...Does Kejriwal know what our trust does since 1986?...Let Kejriwal face the beneficiaries of our camps in 17 district," she said, adding, "Kejriwal would want anyone walking on the street to resign if that person didn't agree with him."
The government too backed the Law Minster, continuing to Mr Kejriwal's allegations a "stunt for cheap publicity."
"He is like bull in a China shop. He doesn't know what is democracy; he doesn't know what is parliamentary procedure'; he doesn't know what is administration. He wants cheap popularity and he is using the media for this," Minister of state in the PMO V Narayansamy said.
"Instead of finding solutions, he (Kejriwal) is playing politics," Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said.
The Opposition, meanwhile, seized the opportunity to corner a government, already besieged with a string of scams. "He is law minister of India. He is supposed to uphold the law of the country. If his family trust is involved in the case of forgery, it is very unfortunate. An independent inquiry should be conducted," BJP leader and spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad said.
(With inputs from agencies