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CM signals fightback

New Delhi, Aug. 8: A senior minister in the Sheila Dikshit cabinet today declared that there “would be a change of guard every March” if top leaders started resigning over CAG reports.

Arvinder Singh Lovely’s comments are being seen as an indication of the Delhi chief minister’s determination to brazen out the Opposition’s attack on her over alleged irregularities in the run-up to last year’s Commonwealth Games (CWG).

Others in the Delhi government pointed out that the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report on the Games projects did not “indict” the chief minister.

Lovely, too, stressed that nowhere had the report used “words like corruption or scam” in relation to such projects.

“A chief minister is not involved in the tendering process. The report has not indicted her,” he told a news conference.

To drive his point home, Lovely said if ministers started resigning on mere mention or references to them in CAG reports, there “would be a change of guard at the Centre and in state governments every March” when such dossiers are compiled.

Dikshit herself refused to comment on the Opposition’s attack. “On whatever is happening in Parliament (BJP members railing against her), I will not comment on thatů. Let them demand (my resignation).”

Lovely, who is Delhi’s education minister and is said to be close to Dikshit, addressed the news conference soon after the state cabinet met to discuss the CAG report.

This sparked the buzz that he had been specifically asked to call the news conference to defend the chief minister.

Lovely accused the BJP of politicising the CAG report and said it was for Parliament’s public accounts committee (PAC) to examine its contents.

“The Delhi government will co-operate with the PAC and answer all queries,” he said. Dikshit too spoke of co-operating with the committee.

Congress leaders are confident the storm around Dikshit would blow over soon. They pointed out that several BJP leaders, including leader of Opposition in the Assembly V.K. Malhotra, were part of Games-related projects executed by the party-run Municipal Corporation of Delhi. This, the Congress leaders said, will take the edge off the charges against Dikshit.

The CAG report said it was with the “active involvement” of Dikshit that street lights were imported at “far higher cost” than locally available ones, leading to an “avoidable extra expenditure of Rs 31.07 crore”. It also said “no technical note” was given to explain why the imported varieties were chosen.

Lovely, instead, claimed the CAG report had lauded Delhi’s infrastructure development. “On Page 427, the CAG has acknowledged the improvement in infrastructure that the Games have brought.”

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