New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal, the Chief Minister of Delhi, today called a press conference to announce that he was sacking a minister caught asking for bribe. "I will not even spare my son, Manish Sisodia or anyone else if he is corrupt," he declared.
Asim Ahmed Khan, 38, who was minister for food and environment, has been replaced by Imran Hussain. "It is a conspiracy by my political opponents," Mr Khan said later, vowing to "answer all questions soon."
Mr Khan had been accused of "nexus with a builder," Mr Kejriwal said, playing an audio recording of what he said was part of a one-hour conversation between the minister and the builder. The Chief Minister said he would ask for a CBI inquiry.
After the dramatic announcement, Mr Kejriwal dared the BJP to do the same with its Chief Ministers in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, who are caught in controversies.
This is the second major change in the six-member Aam Aadmi Party cabinet that took charge eight months ago, and is seen as a move to preempt a controversy when many AAP lawmakers are confronting allegations.
In June, Jitender Tomar resigned as law minister after he was accused of faking his college degree. He was replaced by Kapil Mishra, who, within two months, was replaced as law minister by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
Mr Khan, a businessman, became part of the Kejriwal cabinet after winning an unlikely victory against veteran Shoaib Iqbal in Delhi's Matia Mahal. He was given charge of Food and Civil Supply, Environment and Forest and Election departments.
The Congress and the BJP both mocked AAP.
"Kejriwal is making an event of the sacking," said union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
"A party which was formed to fight corruption....now one third of its ministers in less than eight months have been caught on corruption and had to be removed," Congress leader Ajay Maken commented.