More Skeletons Tumble out of The DDCA closet

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Unfazed by the BJP’s disciplinary action, Kirti Azad, former party MP , continued his tirade against Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. In a scathing attack on Jaitley, Azad said that there was rampant corruption during Jaitley’s tenure as the president of the Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) and he (Jaitley) was even informed about the “developments” through 500 emails and 200 letters.

Even the defamation case filed by the DDCA against Azad has not deterred the former Indian all-rounder from levelling serious allegations of corruption against Jaitley. Meanwhile, Azad has also sought time from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain the case to him.

On the other hand, setting the stage for another turf war in the capital, the Ministry of Home Affairs has declared the inquiry commission to look into the DDCA issue as “null and void”. The one-man inquiry commission involving former solicitor general Gopal Subramanium was formed by the Kejriwal government. Interestingly, the Centre had itself asked the AAP government to look into the matter after Azad’s repeated plea to probe irregularities at the DDCA.

On 5 January, while deposing before a Delhi court Jaitley had said that he had not received a single rupee during his tenure as the DDCA president (from 1999 – 2013). It was with regard to a defamation case filed by Jaitley against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders.

“We have nothing against Arun Jaitley, but we are against the corruption that happened during his tenure at the DDCA ,” says AAP spokesperson Deepak Bajpai. “After reading those documents (Delhi government’s 268 pages report on the DDCA issue) no one can claim that it has no clear reference to Mr Jaitley.”

He is one of the six AAP leaders against whom Jaitley had filed a defamation case. He further says, “When police started arm-twisting the DDCA officials over the alleged corruption, he [Jaitley] wrote a letter to the Delhi Police asking them not to do so.”

Coming back to the issue of corruption, the row over financial irregularities and bungling of funds in the DDCA has completely shaken Indian politics. Wrongdoings at the DDCA are not just limited to finance but also include areas such as the voting process for electing president and the selection of cricketers.

In a news conference Azad had revealed some startling facts about the DDCA spending; Rs 16,000 per day rent for laptop, Rs 5,000 for a printer and Rs 5,000 for puja ki thali. A source tells Tehelka that at DDCA even televisions were brought by paying a daily rent as high as Rs 3,000.

Then it is no wonder that the DDCA has never ever been able to earn profit from any of the Test matches held in Feroz Shah Kotla stadium except for the two — 3 December 2015 India-South Africa encounter and a 1982 match.

Azad, who blew the lid off the alleged financial irregularities at the DDCA , refutes Jaitley’s claim that no agency has ever said that there were serious financial frauds during his tenure. Azad says, “Let us go by what the papers have to say. The Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) report (appointed by the Congress government) indicted the DDCA management on 62 counts, many of which were compounded by a few office bearers of the DDCA.”

To substantiate his claims, the suspended BJP  MP refers to the Fact Finding Report of four Joint Secretaries of DDCA , Internal Audit Report, Delhi government’s inquiry report and sports ministry’s letter to the DDCA on unauthorised construction and evasion of entertainment tax etc.

The DDCA’s internal fact finding committee observed that payments running into crores were made to companies which had never done any work, jobs or assignments for the cricket association. All these payments were made for reasons such as repair work and manpower outsourcing. It observed that to clear such dubious payments, an accountant named Pritam Panwar was employed who doesn’t have any specialisation in finance.

Surprisingly, Shreeram Tradecom is among the three companies which was given a total “loan” of Rs 1.55 crore by the then DDCA president SP Bansal. When a hue and cry was raised over the issue, the amount was returned to the DDCA  but no interest was paid as promised at time of extending the loan. Fourteen companies, which enjoyed the hospitality of the DDCA, were fictitious and don’t even exist at the specified addresses.