New Delhi: India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal on Friday ordered an `internal Lokpal` probe against three IAC members - Anjali Damania, Prashant Bhushan and Mayank Gandhi – to ascertain if they are allegedly involved in irregularities in land deals.
Kejriwal, while announcing the probe by a panel of retired High Court judges, also dared the government to conduct an independent probe against IAC members and punish them if proven guilty.
IAC activists Mayank Gandhi and Anjali Damania said they were open to any kind of probe and were not guilty of any irregularities.
"We have not committed any irregularities whatsoever and we are ready to face any probe to prove our innocence," they said addressing media persons.
Bhushan said government has not given them anything and they purchased the land to build an educational institution for which authorities gave them permission.
"The government has been making all kinds of allegations, fabricating things to defame us. So we had said we are willing to face any probe by the government or any independent body. The government does not do anything in this direction, so we said we will form our own ombudsman," he said.
Kejriwal`s announcement came after allegations were levelled against Bhushan that there were irregularities in buying of land in Himachal Pradesh, that Gandhi has links with builders and Damania`s land deals in Maharashtra were questionable.
Both the government and the Congress laughed off the internal probe ordered by Kejriwal, terming the move as an attempt to fool countrymen.
“The IAC is trying to fool the people of this country. How can one order an internal probe against his own members? What are they trying to prove? All this shows the madness of these people,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Narayanasamy said.
Addressing a press conference later, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari also slammed Kejriwal for unilaterally announcing an internal probe against three IAC members.
“We know this from the very beginning that IAC is the team B of the main opposition party BJP,” Tewari alleged.
Kejriwal, the IAC activist-turned-politician, also hit back on allegations of ‘selective expose’ against politicians, saying his team‘s approach has been selective as it is responsible.
Replying to a volley of questions asked by reporters, Kejriwal said, “We have done nothing wrong. I have not concealed any facts. I don’t know what prompted Mr YP Singh (ex-IPS officer) to level charges of selective expose against me. My team members are open to any probe by any agency.”
Kejriwal, while rejecting the allegation made by Singh that he had concealed facts about alleged corruption by Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar, said, “It is wrong to say that IAC concealed valuable information against some politicians. We had earlier used the information which we got from Mr Singh against 15 politicians including Pawar and posted the details of the same on our website.”
He continued by saying, “It is there for everyone to see. My latest expose was against BJP chief Nitin Gadkari since IAC members had previously staged a 10-day fast to expose the alleged wrongdoings of Sharad Pawar.”
“What else we could do,” Kejriwal asked, adding, “I have requested umpteen times to the Government of India to conduct any inquiry which it deems fit against the IAC members and punish them if proven guilty.”
On his part, Kejriwal also informed that he had requested the probe panel to submit its report in three months.
Former Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah, Justice BH Marlapalle (retd) of Bombay High Court and Justice Jaspal Singh (retd) of Delhi High Court are the "internal Lokpal" for Kejriwal`s yet-to-be named political party.
Kejriwal, while claiming that he will send the probe panel report to the government said, “If found guilty, IAC members will have to quit the organization. We just cannot take a stand against anyone without concrete evidence of irregularities.”
Kejriwal said the ombudsmen would be requested to examine in depth the allegations and material against IAC members, their defence and give a report on whether the allegations show any illegal or immoral act being committed by members.
When asked whether Damania should quit IAC, Kejriwal said Damania cannot influence the probe as she is not an office bearer. "Do you think anybody can influence people like Justice Shah?" he said.
The reaction from the IAC activist came a day after Singh accused Kejriwal of going soft on a few politicians and using crucial information for political gains.
The IAC later issued a statement denying Singh’s charge. “This is wrong to say that we did not raise alleged corruption of Sharad Pawar. We did raise this in our July agitation and we have uploaded all the documents related to Sharad Pawar on our website; yesterday’s press conference against Nitin Gadkari was announced a few days back and it was known to everyone that it will be against Nitin Gadkari alleged corruption," the statement issued on Thursday evening said.
"IAC has been saying this since long. Sharad Pawar was also one of the 15 ministers against whom Kejriwal, Sisodia and Gopal Rai were on fast for 10 days at Jantar Mantar from July 25.”