New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal waded into a corruption controversy on Sunday after his former Cabinet colleague, water minister Kapil Mishra accused him of taking Rs 2 crore bribe, prompting the rival parties to demand his resignation.
After Mishra was sacked from the Cabinet on Saturday, he claimed that he saw Health Minister Satyendar Jain handing over the cash to Kejriwal at his residence on Friday, sparking a major controversy.
The BJP and the Congress have demanded his immediate resignation.
"I saw Jain hand over Rs 2 crore in cash to Kejriwal. When I asked about the money, Kejriwal refused to answer. He said there are certain things in politics which are explained later," Mishra told the media.
Mishra said that he gave the details to Lt Governor Anil Baijal and would also give them to the investigating agencies to initiate action against Kejriwal.
Citing the former water minister, IANS reported that he accused Jain of facilitating a land deal worth Rs 50 crore for a Kejriwal relative. "Jain himself told me about the deal," he reportedly said.
Though Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and AAP leader Kumar Vishwas rushed to Kejriwal's defence, neither Kejriwal nor Jain responded to the allegations.
"The kind of allegations against Kejriwal are unsubstantiated. No one will believe them," said Sisodia.
He questioned the intentions behind the allegations and sought to know why Mishra was speaking only after he was removed as a minister.
Mishra, however, said that he was removed because he had already begun speaking out.
Senior party leader Kumar Vishwas rejected the allegations and said even the worst enemies of Kejriwal can't imagine him to be corrupt.
"If there was anything wrong, Mishra should have raised it in the party platform," he said, adding if he had any proof against Jain or Kejriwal he should reveal it.
He said the party would now decide action over the issue.
Reacting to the allegation, Delhi BJP President Manoj Tiwari said, "Kejriwal has no moral right to hold the post of Chief Minister. He must resign immediately."
The Congress called for criminal proceedings against Kejriwal, with the party's Delhi chief Ajay Maken saying “Mishra's claims were not mere allegations but a "testimony of an eyewitness".
"The Centre, the Anti-Corruption Branch and the CBI should immediately take action and register an FIR against Kejriwal," he told the media.
Meanwhile, social activist Anna Hazare, with whom Kejriwal started the anti-graft crusade in 2011, said he was deeply saddened by the allegations.
"It was because of the anti-corruption fight in Delhi that Kejriwal became the Chief Minister. Today, I cannot tell how deeply sad (I am)," he said in his hometown in Maharashtra.
However, Kejriwal's former party colleague and now head of Swaraj India Yogendra Yadav said he won't believe Mishra without evidence.
"I might agree with charges of power greed, arrogance, authoritarianism against Kejriwal, but charge of taking bribe needs solid evidence," said Yadav.
Mishra said many issues were raised against AAP in the past "but we always thought Kejriwalji did not have knowledge about them".
"But I cannot stay silent after what I witnessed," Mishra said adding that he won't quit the party nor join the BJP.
The Aam Aadmi Party has recently witnessed a string of electroal defeats, including poll debacles in Punjab and Goa, and the Delhi municipal election.
The dissenting voices appeared to grow within AAP following these election setbacks. Kumar Vishwas had also criticised the AAP leadership, though he later and forged an uneasy truce with Kejriwal.