In an unprecedented development, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday announced the sacking of his Minority Affairs Minister Asim Ahmed Khan on live TV.
Kejriwal announced he was sacking his cabinet minister on corruption charges as the latter was allegedly seeking a Rs 6 lakh bribe from a builder, and promptly handed the case over to the CBI.
Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party registered a landslide win in the Delhi elections in February on the anti-corruption plank, also said that even if his son was found indulging in corruption he too would not be spared.
Announcing the sacking at a press conference where he played a recorded tape of a conversation purportedly between Khan and the builder, Kejriwal said the case was being referred to the CBI.
“We received a complaint, assessed it and have decided to remove Asim Ahmed from the Cabinet. We’re referring this complaint to CBI,” Kejriwal said at the press conference.
“Asim will not hold the minister’s portfolio until the CBI inquiry is completed,” he said. “We won’t tolerate any corruption, even if it is our minister or legislator.”
Ballimaran MLA Imran Hussain will replace Khan in the cabinet.
Kejriwal said he last night received the “serious” complaint. “We received the compliant last night against Asim. He has sought Rs 6 lakh from a builder,” he said.
“The complainant has sent us a one-hour audio clip,” he informed. “I and Manish listened to that audio clip. We did preliminary assessment of that and prima facie it seems to be a serious matter.”
Asim also held the food and supplies, election, environment and forest portfolios.
“This step will send a message to everyone that if we could take action against our own minister then nobody would be spared,” said Kejriwal. “Chaahe vo officer ho ya mantri ho, aap saboot la kar dijiye, uspe action hoga (whether the person is an officer or a minister, you bring the proof and we’ll take action).”
Kejriwal outlined that even his family members won’t be spared.
“Kal ko agar mera beta bhrashtachaar karega to use bhi nhi baksha jaayega (tomorrow if my son is found involved in corruption, he too wouldn’t be spared),” he said.
“Humne ye kia, ab BJP apne Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Vasundhara Raje ko bhi hataaye (we have sacked our minister, now BJP should sack its CMs Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Vasundhara Raje).”
Opposition parties reacted in the expected manner.
“Unke paas aur koi chaara bhi nahi tha (they didn’t have an option except sacking the minister),” said BJP spokesman Sambit Patra.
“In less than eight months, one-thirds of AAP’s ministers are facing corruption charges,” said Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken.
“This is when there is no Lokpal in Delhi. Imagine if it was there, whole cabinet would have to resign,” Congress’s RPN Singh.
AAP, much against general expectation, won 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi in the February, decimating all opposition. The BJP, which spent huge amounts of money on campaign, could win just three seats.
Listen to the audio tape here: