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Arvind Kejriwal speaks: Digvijay is no nut

Last updated on: October 31, 2012 17:20 IST

Will Kejriwal be a dividing factor in Indian politics?

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi

Arvind Kejriwal speaks out on Congress leader Digvijay Singh, Robert Vadra and the Gandhi family in this exclusive interview with Rediff.com's Sheela Bhatt.

Will Arvind Kejriwal be a dividing factor in Indian politics?

Kejriwal has traveled a long way quickly. His name was known to only a few Indians when the Right to Information, which he championed along with Aruna Roy and others, became a law.

When Kisan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare started an indefinite fast at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on April 5, 2011, some people first noticed Arvind Kejriwal on the stage, wearing his now trademark bush shirt and loose-fitting trousers, managing the show, strategising the messages that were beamed to some Indian homes through the television cameras that were focused 24/7 on the fasting Anna.

In retrospect, it seems Indian politics entered a new phase that day.

With Kejriwal's no-holds-barred fight against corruption and a corrupt political establishment, a full-fledged war has broken out. Politicians of all shades are out to ensure that the Kejriwals of a post-RTI India cannot be allowed to have their way.

Like scores of issues -- including caste, gender, religion and personalities like Narendra Modi that divide India -- Arvind Kejriwal is likely to be one more dividing factor in the coming years.

Is Kejriwal afraid of the combined might of the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party? Does he have sleepless nights over the charges levelled against him by the likes of Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh?

Hardly, he tells Sheela Bhatt.

In this exclusive interview to Rediff.com, Kejriwal answers the questions raised by Digvijay Singh and shares his enormous confidence in the work that he is doing.

The irrepressible and highly ambitious Kejriwal, charged frequently of being an anarchist, has sprung up on the national stage from a middle-class background to give the Indian elites a run for their money.

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Image: Arvind Kejriwal with Kisan Baburao 'Anna 'Hazare before they parted ways


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'All the questions Digvijay has asked me should be asked to his PM and FM'

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In our kind of democracy people can ask you questions. You should have a sense of democracy to reply to Digvijay Singh's questions.

Exactly! (chuckles) very correct!

You see... I am happy that you are, also, laughing at your question. You should put it on record.

The questions that you have asked pertains to me and my wife's posting (in the income tax department) and it pertains to the funding of our organisation, broadly. These are two things asked: I don't know the rest of the questions.

I want to say that as far as our posting is concerned, the government should ask their departments. Why were we not transferred out of New Delhi? Who stopped them? Why are you asking us?

But there are many complaints. You took long leave for studies. You did not submit the report as is mandatory after returning from leave. You were never transferred out of Delhi.

How is it possible to accept my resignation if I haven't submitted my report?

My question is without getting my final report, why did the government accept my resignation?

Why don't you give detailed and proper answers to Digvijay Singh?

It's not about my loss. This country will lose out. You should understand the issue. All the questions that Digvijay Singh has asked me should be asked to his prime minister and finance minister.

Digvijay Singh should ask his finance minister, 'Under which rule have you kept Arvind in New Delhi?' He should also ask, 'Without getting the final report from Arvind, why was his resignation accepted?'

This should be explained by the finance minister (under whom the income tax department works).

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Image: Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh


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'This country doesn't take Digvijay Singh seriously'

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In the fight between you and the government, we, the public, are not getting answers. Why don't you give us an explanation on these issues?

You should listen to my side. I am saying that the files are with the finance minister. Digvijay Singh should ask him.

The people who have helped Digvijay Singh set the questionnaire have read the files. The same files have the answers to his questions.

We (Arvind and his wife Sunita) have not bent any rules pertaining to transfers or postings.

All those who talk of foreign funding (in the Kejriwal-run non governmental organisation, Association for India's Development) should know that last month my colleague Manish Sisodia was raided for three days by the home ministry. They found nothing even after sitting in his office, day and night.

Digvijay Singh should visit the home ministry and see the file on us. He should check if any scam has been found or not.

When we alleged that there was a Rs 200,000 crore scam and the prime minister should be answerable for it, Digvijay Singh stood up and asked us to respond why the chutney was so hot in the golgappas that Manish had the other day?

When we point out that (former law minister) Salman Khurshid's NGO has eaten away funds of differently-disabled people, they say Arvind should respond why he wanted to become a member of the National Advisory Council.

Do you understand Digvijay Singh's strategy? They want to divert the attention of the country. They want to change the public discourse.

We have said umpteen times 'Please investigate and please send us behind bars if we have done wrong. You have the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, the income tax department. You have completed the investigation. You have got nothing against us. Since you have got nothing, you are asking these kind of questions.'

Still, we are ready to answer all of Digvijay Singh's questions. But it has to be a one-on-one public debate. You send (Congress President) Sonia Gandhi and I will reach the venue too. We should answer each other's questions first and then both of us should answer people's questions.

Both of us know Sonia Gandhi will never agree to a public debate. We are concerned with your explanation on the charges levelled against you.

I have given you the answers. Ask the government department about me. I have not flouted any rules on transfers or posting. I am saying file a FIR (First Information Report) against me and bring the evidence.

There is no serious question in Digvijay Singh's list. What do I respond to?

Are you afraid of Digvijay Singh?

Why should I be afraid of him? I don't think he can tarnish me.

Nobody in his party takes him seriously. This country doesn't take him seriously. I don't know whether his family takes him seriously.

I personally think he is a shrewd politician. He is not a nut, as he projects himself.

He says something with multiple objects that he keeps in mind. He speaks when he wants to divert the issue. He is not a joker as he pretends to be. But definitely there is no question of being afraid of him.

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Image: Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal
Photographs: Reuters

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'How did property worth Rs 7.5 crore become Rs 58 crore in 2 months?'

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The most common charge against you is that you indulge in 'hit and run' political actions and you are not subject to deeper scrutiny.

It has been found that you level charges without substantiating it. If you don't take the charges to its logical conclusion, it will create a setback.

Some critics feel you will end up harming the movement against corruption in the country.

There are three, four points in your question. One charge is that we are hitting (politicians) and running away. That's not true. I am sitting right in front of you and readily answering your questions. We haven't run away.

Second, you are saying we level charges without substance or evidence. This is completely wrong.

If we would have done that, the entire media would have torn us apart. Every charge that we have levelled is backed by proper evidence.

The charges against Robert Vadra were made on basis of his balance sheets and the profit and loss accounts that he had filed with the Registrar of Companies.

All the allegations that we levelled against (BJP President) Nitin Gadkari were made on the basis of documents from the Vidarbha Irrigation Development Corporation, a state government-owned agency.

Your major charge at the press conference against Robert Vadra was that there was a quid pro quo between Vadra and the real estate major, DLF, which was favoured by the Congress-led government in Haryana.

Since Vadra is Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law, your main theme was this connection.

Where is the legal proof of a quid pro quo, if any? You haven't established it legally.

Who should establish it, legally?

You are already going on air before the government could establish it.

Right. So you are saying two things. Do you agree that it is amply proved that DLF favoured Vadra? Do you agree to that extent with me?

Don't ask me! Generally, in India, business is done like this only, no? People buy properties and then sell it off after a few years at a higher price. Vadra can do the same.

Let me ask you if you buy a property for Rs 7.5 crore (Rs 75 million) in March and two-and-a-half months later if you sell for Rs 58 crore (Rs 580 million), do you still think it is an ordinary transaction?

Within two, three months will your property of Rs 7.5 crore be worth Rs 58 crore?

Do you have proof of any quid pro quo between Vadra and DLF?

I am coming to that point. In this interview I can only give you the evidence. First of all, do you agree or not that DLF favoured Vadra?

Legally speaking, there is still a slim chance that these were Vadra's business dealings.

Is this a normal business deal?

In this country, which is so corrupt, no such business deals are normal.

Is it normal for a businessman to take a loan at very high cost from someone else and give it interest-free to Vadra... unsecured for three years and not ask him to return it? Is it normal?

Not normal.

So it is proved that the relationship between Vadra and DLF is not at arm's length. DLF favoured Vadra. Agree? On the other hand, DLF has been favoured by the Haryana government during the same period.

There are any number of cases that we have cited proving how DLF has been favoured by the Haryana government.

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Image: Robert Vadra, Congress President Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law


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'Tell me one agency which is not under the control of the Gandhi family?'

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We are not sitting on an island. In this country you take any such deal and you can replace the names.

I completely agree. This is going on everywhere. These are not ordinary business dealings. These are corrupt deals! This is not the way business is run.

The deal is stuck when you provide services and you charge the beneficiary of your service for it.

Here, Robert Vadra is close to (Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh) Hooda. Vadra gets the required licenses from Hooda. He provides it to DLF.

In return, DLF has to pay the bribe money. They pay this bribe money in the form of these (real estate) transactions. These transactions are basically a corporate veil to hide that bribe money. This is very clear.

Is this charge legally sustainable?

Who will prove it? The investigative agency? Tell me one single agency which is not under the control of the Gandhi family?

Tell me the name of one agency which is independent of the government?

Who will prove it?

If a murder has taken place in front of my house and I go to the police station and request them to file a FIR, the police says, 'No, no, you first do the investigation; prove it that murder has taken place. What was the motive? Prove if there was a quid pro quo. Tell us everything, do the investigation and then come to us.'

What nonsense is this?

Under the Indian Penal Code, under the Criminal Procedure Code, it is clearly written that as a citizen it is my duty to report if any cognisable offense has occurred.

I am informing (the authorities) that a cognisable offence of corruption has occurred amongst Vadra, the Haryana government and DLF. Please register an FIR. They are not even registering an FIR.

Have you tried it?

Why can't the CBI take up the case suo moto? It is their duty to do it.

(Indian Administrative Service officer) Ashok Khemka tried to investigate at his level. He was transferred out. Now they are scuttling the investigations.

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Image: Robert Vadra, second from right, with his wife Priyanka, right, brother-in-law Rahul Gandhi, left, and mother-in-law Sonia Gandhi
Photographs: Kamal Kishore/Reuters

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'I am not selective about my targets'

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From April 2011 to October 2012 you have travelled a long way. Do you think some charges against you will stick?

No, I don't agree. Like?

Like people say you are 'selective' in your targets?

Tell me, which politicians we have left out in spite of having evidence.

You are considered soft on Gujarat.

Search Rediff.com only!

I went to Gujarat. I raised the issue of the Lokayukta and I insisted that a Lokayukta be appointed.

The next part of Sheela Bhatt's interview with Arvind Kejriwal, where he claims that the charges against Nitin Gadkari are more serious than those against Robert Vadra...


Image: Arvind Kejriwal and fellow activist Prashant Bhushan, left, partly seen


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