Kejriwal dares PM, Sonia to debate corruption, Congress dismissive

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) A day after being queried about his outfit's funding and his government service, India Against Corruption (IAC) leader Arvind Kejriwal Sunday hit back, daring Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Rahul Gandhi to a public debate on corruption.

He also asked Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, who had posed the questions, to first get his party chief and the prime minister to reply to corruption charges against the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The Congress reacted dismissively to the challenge from Kejriwal, with union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Harish Rawat saying the prime minister cannot be responding to each and every person or issue.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde called the IAC and Arvind Kejriwal's tactics as "promoting indiscipline" in society.

Reacting to Digvijay Singh's 27 questions, posed Saturday, Kejriwal in an interview with a TV channel said: "Let him first persuade Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to respond to our charges. Then, I will respond to each of his questions."

Digvijay Singh had Saturday asked Kejriwal about foreign funding of an NGO with which he is associated and reported violation of service rules while he was an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer.

The Congress general secretary, who Friday called Kejriwal a "self-serving ambitious megalomaniac with scant regard for democracy", asked the activist why he "never raised" the issue of corruption in states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"We had put some questions to (Sonia Gandhi's son-in-law) Robert Vadra and the prime minister. Let them answer first. Then, we will answer all questions from Digvijay Singh. I request him to encourage the prime minister, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi for a public debate," the activist-cum-politician said.

"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," he added.

"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, noting that the Congress leadership did not answer questions on Vadra or Lokpal.

Kejriwal also wanted Digvijay Singh to get answers from the prime minister, Vadra and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda on the land deals.

On the Congress leader's claim of having evidence against BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani's relatives' involvement in corruption and that his party will never use these to embarrass the opposition leaders, the IAC leader said his outfit had been highlighting the nexus between the ruling and the opposition parties.

"They are not bringing up the issues, not on moral grounds but on corrupt grounds. I congratulate Digvijay Singh for confessing this. He has evidence of corruption against the BJP leaders and the BJP has evidence against Vadra and Digvijay Singh. But both have an understanding," he said.

Commenting on Kejriwal's corruption charge against Congress and his recent protests in the national capital against power tariff hike, Shinde said: "India Against Corruption should think about what they are doing. This sort of protest, by restoring power connections, is illegal. Are they trying to promote indiscipline in society? If this is not illegal, then what is?"

On Kejriwal's challenge to a debate, Rawat said: "The prime minister cannot be reacting or responding to each and everything."




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