Kejriwal challenges PM, Sonia for public debate, Cong snubs

Last Updated: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 23:20

New Delhi: Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday challenged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to a public debate on scams and corruption, a day after questions were posed to him on issues like his NGO and government service.
In an escalating war of words, Congress on its part snubbed the India Against Corruption(IAC) activist and dismissed his challenge, saying even block-level leaders of the party can tear him down over his "insinuations and allegations cacaphony".

Kejriwal said IAC will answer questions raised against it only after Congress leadership and Robert Vadra come clean on charges of corruption.

A day after Congress leader Digvijay Singh posed questions to Kejriwal on funding of his NGO and other issues, the activist hit back saying he was willing to reply to all queries but Singh should first convice Prime Minister Singh and others to answer issues raised by the people.

"We had put some questions to Robert Vadra and the Prime Minister. Let them answer first. Then, we will answer all questions from Digvijay Singh. I request Singh to encourage Mrs Gandhi, Prime Minister or Rahul Gandhi to come for a public debate.

"Let`s question each other and let public question us on personal and public issues. Is Digvijay Singh ready? If he cannot convince his party bosses or the PM, then people would think he is doing all this for cheap publicity and to divert attention," Kejriwal told reporters.

He said the leadership did not answer questions on Vadra or Lokpal and he wants Singh to get the answers from the Prime Minister, Vadra and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

"They can ask us any number of questions about our personal life, we will answer. Then we will ask them...They should also answer in public," he said.

Kejriwal`s challenge was dismissed by the Congress and Digvijay Singh.

"Any of our block level spokespersons are more than enough to deal with this insinuations and allegations cacaphony," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said.

Digvijay Singh said Kejriwal cannot compare himself with the prime minister of the country and dared the activist for an "open" debate with him. Singh also reminded him that he was a chief minister for 10 years.

Kejriwal accepted Digvijay Singh`s challenge to the IAC
for a public debate.

"We accept Digvijay Singh`s offer for public debate. Kumar Vishwas will participate from our side," he said. Vishwas is Kejriwal`s close associate.

"Now its time to enter battlefield. Be fully prepared Digvijay Singh because now the fight wil be in people`s court," Vishwas said.

Union Minister and Congress leader Harish Rawat also dismissed Kejriwal`s challenge.

"They are just playing politics. If he (PM) starts answering all the questions then we will need two PMs one to solve the problems and look after the nation and others for answering questions," he added

Singh today said he was all prepared to have a debate with Kejriwal even though the latter is a novice in politics.

"I have 40 years of experience in politics while Kejriwal is yet to contest an election. Despite this, I am willing for a debate with Kejriwal who is free to choose the place, time and date for it," Singh told reporters at Raghogarh in Madhya Pradesh.

The former chief minister alleged that Kejriwal was trying to "avoid" answering 27 questions he had posed to him.

Singh also demanded adequate compensation for families of three devotees killed in the stampede at Salkanpur Devi Temple in Sehore district of the state.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 09:33

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