"I’m in Farrukhabad... we don’t fear for our lives"

Taking his fight against corruption to External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s backyard, social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday appealed to the people of Farrukhabad to ensure that he was not re-elected from the constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Describing the alleged embezzlement of funds in the Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust managed by Mr. Khurshid and his wife Louise as the “ugliest form of corruption,” which deprived physically and visually impaired persons of the benefits due to them, Mr. Kejriwal said a disabled person should be fielded against the Minister from Farrukhabad in 2014 and his victory ensured.

Mr. Kejriwal, who reached Avas Vikas Grounds here, venue of an anti-corruption rally, at 2 p.m. and was the last speaker, mocked the Minister for having dared him to come to Farrukhabad. “I have reached Farrukhabad and will return by the night train. A few hours are still left for my departure… we don’t fear for our lives,” he said.

At the rally, organised by the Rashtriya Viklang Party and India Against Corruption, IAC activists protested the alleged injustice meted out to the disabled and against rampant corruption.

Earlier, black flags were shown, allegedly by supporters of Mr. Khurshid, to Mr. Kejriwal’s convoy which left Lucknow for Farrukhabad by road in the morning. But the activist said there were only 25-30 people.

Mr. Kejriwal said Mr. Khurshid had been made External Affairs Minister by Ms. Sonia Gandhi despite the corruption charges against him. “Mr. Khurshid has been rewarded for having said that he would give his life for Ms. Gandhi.”

Assailing Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for re-starting the probe into the alleged misappropriation of funds by Mr. Khurshid’s trust when an inquiry had been completed and a report submitted on June 12, 2012, Mr. Kejriwal said there was a quid pro quo between Mr. Yadav and Mr. Khurshid. “Efforts are being made to sweep the matter under the carpet as Akhilesh Yadav, [Samajwadi Party leader] Mulayam Singh and Salman Khurshid are one on this count.” He wanted to know why Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Ms. Gandhi were silent on the corruption charges against Mr. Khurshid, Mukesh Ambani and Robert Vadra. Mr. Kejriwal reiterated that S. Jaipal Reddy was shifted from the Petroleum Ministry because he had opposed the Reliance proposal to hike gas price.

Mr. Kejriwal said if his party attained a position from where it could get things done after 2014, cases would be registered against the guilty and they would be in jail within six months.

As the rally showcased the plight of the disabled, several persons who were shown as having been given aids and implements by Mr. Khurshid’s trust in14 U.P. districts in 2009-10 were introduced to the gathering by Manish Sisodia of the IAC.

IAC volunteers from Chennai, Indore, Rajasthan, Bihar, Haryana, Mathura, Aligarh, Noida, Lucknow and Delhi attended the rally. A heavy police force had been deployed to check untoward incidents.