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No takers for Kejriwal call

New Delhi, Oct. 13: Arvind Kejriwal’s hopes of turning Delhi’s Parliament Street into a Tahrir Square flopped today.

Although Delhi police allowed the India Against Corruption activists to continue their protest beyond the 6pm deadline, barely 100 people showed up to demand Salman Khurshid’s resignation for alleged financial irregularities in an NGO the law minister and his wife Louise run.

Louise, the project director of the Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust, said the allegations of “money bungling” were “baseless innuendos” and accused Kejriwal of “doing politics using the shoulders of the disabled”.

She said there was no question of her husband quitting the cabinet. “There is no inquiry against Khurshid either by the central government or any report by the CAG. So why should he step down?” Louise asked.

Kejriwal, who had spent the night in a makeshift jail in Bawana, joined his supporters on Parliament Street after being released today. He was detained yesterday after he insisted on marching to the Prime Minister’s residence to protest the alleged fraud in the NGO that works with the differently abled in Uttar Pradesh.

On Parliament Street, the activists today insisted they would continue to protest until Khurshid stepped down. Kejriwal tweeted: “Rise and throw this corrupt empire. Bhagat Singh gave up his life for the country. Subhash Chandra Bose gave up his life and career. What would u do?”

Yesterday, Kejriwal had called on the people to make Parliament Street another Tahrir Square. But barely a hundred people collected outside Parliament Street police station, some 150 metres from Parliament.

Kejriwal declared an indefinite protest until Khurshid steps down. The police played it safe by not detaining or force-lifting the protesters as they had done last August during Anna Hazare’s protest. Reports said the protesters had not left till 9pm.

Louise insisted she and her husband had done nothing wrong. “We have spent huge money serving the people of our constituency, Farrukhabad, for which we did not take anything from the government. We will not soil our hands for an amount like Rs 70 lakh. We have done no wrong. All this is totally false,” she said.

She, however, wondered why the ministry for social justice and empowerment had not given papers and documents to the CAG and others, when they were sought.

“The ministry should have given the accounts. We had submitted the utilisation certificates and all documents,” she said.

“There are already enough innuendos. I do not want to add to them. I will not make any allegation but it was quite shocking that they did not give the documents.”

The Congress rejected demands for Khurshid’s resignation. “Untruth cannot become the basis for crucifying anybody…. They are innocent till proved guilty,” Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said.