Has Finance Minister Arun Jaitley any other option but to quit ?

New Delhi,Sandhya Jain : Within 72 hours, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi returns from an official visit to Russia, Union Finance Minister and Information & Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley will have to submit his resignation from the Union Cabinet.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley was DDCA president till 2013. (PTI file photo)

Finance minister Arun Jaitley was DDCA president till 2013. (PTI file photo)

Jaitley’s position – already sticky after the Prime Minister was perceived as hinting that he step down and clear his name in the fashion of his mentor LK Advani when the latter’s name was dragged into the infamous Jain Hawala Scandal – has become invidious with former Punjab Director General of Police, KPS Gill, writing to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal complaining that the Finance Minister had got his daughter Sonali Jaitley appointed as counsel of Hockey India when he was member of its advisory board, and allegedly ensured that huge amounts were paid to her as fee.

As it is impossible to deny or explain this nepotism, the curtains will soon ring down on Arun Jaitley’s 18-month tenure as the most powerful minister in the cabinet after Narendra Modi.

The highly anticipated resignation has been the subject of speculation since Jaitley threatened to sue Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for alleging corruption during his tenure as chief of the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). Once he followed up with suits for civil (Rs 10 crore) and criminal (for punishment) defamation, his exit was certain.

It is relevant that the Delhi Government has set up a Commission of Inquiry under former Solicitor General of India, Gopal Subramanian, to probe the allegations against Jaitley.

Jaitley’s choice of senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, a former Additional Solicitor General during the UPA era, has raised eyebrows in the BJP, where many have privately questioned his commitment to the party.

The credit for this sudden turn in Arun Jaitley’s fortunes goes to the BJP’s Darbhanga MP, Kirti Azad, who, along with veteran Bishan Singh Bedi, reiterated his charges after the Finance Minister claimed to have been cleared by a committee appointed by the UPA. Azad braved ‘pressure’ from party president Amit Shah to harangue Jaitley; many now speculate if this was a ‘deep’ game to topple the senior minister who has a penchant for salacious gossip about cabinet and party colleagues and has enraged many with selective leaks in the media.

Party sources say the writing was on the wall once Jaitley made the mistake of going to court. He should have calmed down once senior ministers refused to defend him in the manner in which the government and party rallied around Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje in the controversy relating to former cricket czar Lalit Modi’s travel visa and London residency. At Amit Shah’s request, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu agreed to accompany Jaitley to file the case, as a formal courtesy.

Jaitley will now have to submit to arduous cross examination by a legal eagle like Ram Jethmalani, and face de facto legal scrutiny – a huge mistake. As BJP leader in the Rajya Sabha he often demanded the resignations of tainted Congress ministers during the UPA rule. After KPS Gill’s salvo, he has no choice but to quit before his continuation in the cabinet becomes an embarrassment and is demanded by the party itself.

Prime Minister Modi is reportedly keen to jettison Jaitley, a political lightweight, to keep the limelight on the National Herald case and the bad publicity it has generated for the Congress party and the Gandhi family. He also needs to ensure that Budget 2016 is not a washout like the two budgets prepared by Jaitley, which eroded the confidence of the middle class and the corporate community and gave his government the appearance of a wobbly enterprise.

Editor’s note: The writer Sandhya Jain is an Author and  sr Journalist. Views are her own which don’t reflect the views of publication.  Email: jsandhya@gmail.com. Twitter: @vijayvaani.com .