Has Arvind Kejriwal erred by appointing 'tainted' Rajendra Kumar as Delhi principal secretary?
The CBI raid on the office of Delhi principal secretary Rajendra Kumar has dealt a big blow to CM Arvind Kejriwal's anti-corruption plank.
New Delhi: Under attack for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a ''coward and psychopath'' after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raided the office of his corruption-accused principal secretary Rajendra Kumar, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's anti-corruption plank seriously suffered a big setback on Tuesday.
Although the Opposition parties jumped into Kejriwal's defence soon after the CBI raids, the ruling BJP too hit back saying, Kejriwal – the man who has for long crusaded against corruption and has been the main face of Anna Hazare's movements – has himself committed a big mistake by not doing the background check before appointing senior IAS officer Rajendra Kumar as his principal secretary.
The ruling BJP, which made a point-by-point rebuttal of the charges made by Team Kejriwal, said, Kejriwal's party had sometime back supported the idea of giving the CBI complete freedom to investigate and prosecute high ranking officials irrespective of their positions.
It appears that Delhi CM Kejriwal has probably forgotten the fact that he had welcomed the abrogation of the 'single directive system', which made it mandatory for the CBI to seek prior approval of the government before investigating any official at the level of joint secretary and above.
It is to be noted that the 'single directive system' was re-inroduced by the NDA regime in 2003 through an Act passed by Parliament. Kejriwal and, then his best friend, Prashant Bhushan had vociferously opposed the move.
Bhushan, a noted lawyer, also went on to file a petition in the Supreme Court, which scrapped the single directive system. Kejriwal had then hailed the move and stressed that the CBI be given complete freedom to investigate serious corruption cases involving senior bureaucrats.
Hence, Kejriwal’s unmindful attack on the Prime Minister and his displeasure over the CBI raids is not in sync with his earlier stance on the issue.
The manner in which the AAP chief had reacted to the CBI raids is only indicative of his feisty side - his image of being a street-fighter. It is beyond doubt that over the years, Kejriwal has enjoyed a cult status within his own party and has vehemently opposed any criticism of his brand of politics.
The fate of his two closes aides – Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav – after they fell out with Kejriwal over party matters and his autocratic functioning is a proof of this assertion.
There can be several reasons for Kejriwal to be miffed with the CBI’s action, but would it not have been better for Kejriwal to wait for the details of the case before branding PM Modi as a ''coward and psychopath''.
Or, as Kejriwal critics say, by raking up the CBI issue, the Delhi CM just wants to once again pitch himself before all popular PM Modi.
By spewing venom against the Centre, a ''helpless'' Kejriwal has surely attempted to garner political mileage from this situation in Delhi and in Punjab where the party is hoping to win a big mandate next year. This is why, the Kejriwal & Co has dismissed the Centre’s argument that the raid conducted by the CBI was related to a corruption case of Kumar's, and not in his capacity as principal secretary to Kejriwal, but while on a previous assignment.
The issue saw Finance Minister Arun Jaitley explaining in the Rajya Sabha that the CBI raids had nothing to do with Kejriwal’s office. He said that the searches were conducted in 14 other places in relation to a corruption case of an office — not related to his present assignment. The CBI has also maintained that the office of the principal secretary was raided, and not that of the chief minister.
The CBI later said it had seized Rs 2.4 lakh and documents related to three immovable properties from Kumar's official residence and that he was not cooperating in opening his email accounts.
Referring to the October 9 sacking of Food Minister Asim Ahmed Khan, he said: "I am the only CM who dismissed, on my own, a minister and a senior officer on charges of corruption and handed their cases to the CBI. "If CBI had any evidence against (Kumar), why didn't they share it with me? I would have acted against him."
Has the leader of AAP - India's youngest political party, which swept the Delhi assembly polls in February, winning 67 of the 70 seats - forgotten that raids against high profile officials are not conducted after announcement.
Come what may, by opposing the CBI raids, Arvind Kejriwal's double speak has been exposed once again.