India's Jaitley Rebuts Graft Claims Amid Calls for Resignation

  • Opposition Congress alleges corruption in Delhi cricket body
  • Parliament stalemate continues as members trade charges

India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is facing opposition allegations of financial wrongdoing at a local sports body on his watch more than two years ago, denied any wrongdoing as a partisan deadlock in parliament threatened to scuttle Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to improve ease of doing business in Asia’s third-largest economy.

The minister’s reply came in response to slogans by members of the opposition Indian National Congress demanding Jaitley’s resignation over alleged irregularities during his stint as chief of the Delhi & District Cricket Association between 1999 and 2013. An investigation by the then Congress-led coalition government had absolved him of any wrongdoing in 2013, Jaitley said in a Facebook blog separately.

“All the allegations are baseless,” he told lawmakers in Lok Sabha, the lower house of parliament. “The Serious Fraud Investigation Office has not given any report saying the expenditure is erroneous.”

Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, in its second year in power, is locked in a tussle with various opposition parties that have blocked key bills including a goods-and-services tax aimed at unifying the nation’s 1.2 billion people into a single market. The legislative impasse has intensified in recent weeks after Modi’s opponents say he is unfairly using federal agencies to probe political foes, a charge denied by his government. 

Delhi Chief Minister and leader of the Aam Aadmi Party, Arvind Kejriwal, last week called Modi a “coward” and a “psychopath” in a Twitter post after federal agents of the Central Bureau of Investigation searched the offices of his key aide. 

Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi, the top leaders of the main opposition Congress, were granted bail by a court over the weekend in a high-profile legal tussle after a petitioner, belonging to the BJP, accused them of financial irregularity, which the Congress party has denied.

Jaitley has filed a defamation case against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders, the Press Trust of India reported, citing Jaitley’s lawyer Manik Dogra. The allegations pertain to inflated payments toward the construction of a cricket stadium in the nation’s capital when Jaitley headed the sport’s administrative body in the state.

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