New Delhi, Oct 14: Seeking an independent probe into allegations of forgery and embezzlement of funds against an NGO run by his wife, Law Minister Salman Khurshid Sunday rebutted the allegations, saying if the charges were found to be true, he would leave politics and resign.
“Nobody has said that we have embezzled Rs.71 lakh. If somebody has said there has been an embezzlement, the answer is no. It is so stupid that I will allow a trust associated with me to embezzle Rs.71 lakh,” Khurshid told Karan Thapar in an interview broadcast on CNN-IBN Sunday.
The law minister struck a combative tone and dared his critics to prove charges against him.
Replying to India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal’s allegations that the NGO, Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, did not hold camps and did not distribute aid equipment to the differently-abled, Khurshid said: “If the camps did not take place, they must get the money back. If the camps didn’t take place, I have lot to answer. But the camps took place.”
“I inaugurated the camp, my colleagues inaugurated camps. We have given the entire data of that to the ministry. The ministry has audited accounts of the camps, the pictures of the camps, list of people has been given,” Khurshid said.
IAC activists had accused Khurshid and his wife of not organising health camps in 10 of the 17 districts for which they had received funds from the central government.
“You think the law minister is going to forge signatures for this purpose. I will leave politics if these signatures are found to be forged,” Khurshid said.
Khurshid also called for an independent inquiry into allegations of forgery and embezzlement of funds against him and his wife.
He asked the media to look within before broadcasting charges without verifying the facts. “You want me to resign? I will resign on your channel but Karan (Thapar), it is time for all of you to be careful about what you do,” said Khurshid.
“Will you (media) leave journalism if these signatures are found to be forged? The time has come for you (media) to begin to answer these questions,” he said.
Kejriwal Saturday announced an indefinite agitation to demand the resignation and arrest of Khurshid over alleged financial irregularities in his NGO.
Khurshid’s wife Louise Khurshid Saturday slammed Kejriwal and a television channel for alleging that their NGO had siphoned off lakhs of rupees meant for physically challenged people and termed the charges as false.
Louise Friday filed a civil defamation case in Delhi High Court against the TV Today Group seeking damages of Rs.100 crore, said court sources.
According to the Aaj Tak report, the union social welfare and empowerment ministry had granted Rs.71.50 lakh to the Khurshids’ NGO for distributing tricycles and hearing aids to the disabled in 17 districts of Uttar Pradesh.
The television channel has alleged financial misappropriation by the Khurshids in running the trust.
While Salman Khurshid is the president of the trust, his wife is the project director.
Nearly 150 protestors assembled outside Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport here Sunday morning, shouting slogans against Khurshid as he landed here after a visit to London.
Khurshid, who was in London to receive an honour at Oxford University, arrived here early Sunday. As he landed, supporters of India Against Corruption (IAC) activist Arvind Kejriwal gathered near the VVIP gate of the IGI airport, shouting slogans and holding placards demanding his ouster.