The ED case against AAP members may be genuine, because where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
By Rakesh Raman
Delhi chief minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) confirmed today (September 13) that India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) – which probes financial crimes – has called AAP’s national secretary Pankaj Gupta for questioning.
Gupta has been summoned in connection with a money laundering case involving a former AAP politician Sukhpal Singh Khaira who is already facing investigation in the alleged drug trafficking and fake passports case.
After leaving APP in 2019, Khaira had joined Punjab Congress a couple of months ago – presumably with the hope to get exonerated after leaving AAP where the alleged financial irregularities happened.
According to an NDTV report, Khaira had raised donations of approximately US$ 100,000 from the United States for AAP, and this amount is now under scrutiny.
Instead of facing the probe silently, Kejriwal has tried to give it a political colour by blaming Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of prime minister Narendra Modi.
“In Delhi they (BJP) tried to defeat us with IT Dept, CBI, Delhi Police – but we won 62 seats. As we grow in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Gujarat – we get an ED notice! The people of India want honest politics- these tactics of BJP will never succeed, they will make us stronger,” Kejriwal tweeted without disputing the facts of the ED case and without substantiating his assertions.
In Delhi they tried to defeat us with IT Dept, CBI, Delhi Police – but we won 62 seats. As we grow in Punjab, Goa, Uttarakhand, Guj – we get an ED notice! The people of India want honest politics- these tactics of BJP will never succeed, they will make us stronger https://t.co/JjWy7MQfH4
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 13, 2021
Similarly, Khaira has been claiming that it is a politically motivated case against him, as he has been raising his voice against the farm laws introduced by the Modi government. Khaira’s argument does not hold water, because thousands of people have been opposing farm laws, but they are not being targeted by the ED.
The ED case against AAP members may be genuine, because where there’s smoke, there’s fire. This is clear from the fact that last month (August) Kejriwal’s group had said that AAP members may be victimized as they were perhaps aware of some irregularities in APP funds.
Kejriwal’s colleague and deputy chief minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia had alleged that PM Modi has shared a hitlist of 15 people – including AAP politicians – with the Delhi Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and Enforcement Directorate (ED) and asked them to harass these people.
In a video released on August 21, Sisodia said that he has come to know from reliable sources that Modi has asked the police and other agencies to raid these people and implicate them in false cases to ruin them before the next elections. However, Sisodia did not disclose his sources to substantiate his claims.
Sisodia added that Delhi Police chief Rakesh Asthana – whose recent appointment has been challenged in the court – has promised to implement Modi’s directive. Delhi Police is owned and operated by Modi’s colleague Amit Shah who is the home minister of India.
In his tweet of August 21, Kejriwal also said that in the past false cases and raids on AAP members have gone futile. But he did not directly blame Modi, because Kejriwal is perhaps scared of Modi.
Both Kejriwal and Sisodia have said in the past that Modi and his party BJP want to get Kejriwal killed. Kejriwal had also released a video of his claims about Modi’s attempt to get him assassinated. [ Click here to watch the video. ]
Sisodia said in his video of August 21 that fake cases were registered against 21 AAP MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) and the Shunglu Committee set up to investigate the corruption of AAP government did not yield any result.
A former Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi Najeeb Jung had set up an expert committee – called the Shunglu Committee – to examine over 400 files for financial and administrative irregularities committed by Kejriwal’s government.
While the Shunglu Committee had submitted its report in November 2016, it is stated that the report has found serious cases of fraud, cheating, and misappropriation of funds in Kejriwal’s government. But the case was brushed under the carpet and the findings of the report were not made public.
In response to Sisodia’s rants, Delhi BJP president Adesh Gupta said that if Sisodia and AAP leaders are honest, they should let the agencies do their investigative work. Gupta added that Kejriwal and Sisodia are disturbed because the Central government has allowed CBI to probe into the DTC bus purchase scam by Delhi Government. He also blamed Kejriwal and his party for corruption in Delhi Jal Board, adding that the people of Delhi will not spare the corrupt.
It is largely believed that Kejriwal and Sisodia – who are heading one of the most corrupt governments in India – were making grounds for their escape by accusing the Modi government of launching unfair investigations against them.
If they are caught and charged for their corrupt acts, they will claim that these investigations and charges against them are politically motivated.
While there are multiple complaints of corruption against AAP legislators, in 2019 the party decided to defy the notice from Delhi’s anti-corruption body Lokayukta which had asked AAP MLAs to reveal the details of their assets.
Also, last year (2020), the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police had revealed that 2 persons were arrested for allegedly donating Rs 2 crore to Kejriwal’s AAP through shell companies formed on the basis of fabricated documents.
There have been a slew of complaints related to misappropriation of funds against Kejriwal’s party. Earlier, in 2015, Dr. Munish Raizada – who has been a part of India Against Corruption (IAC) movement and AAP – was removed from the party when he started questioning the shady handling of funds by Kejriwal and AAP.
On Raizada’s complaint, social activist and IAC leader Anna Hazare had also written a rebuke letter to Kejriwal for misappropriation of party funds. But AAP ignored the letter and continued working in a dishonest manner. Raizada was the co-convener of AAP’s Chicago-based NRI Cell.
These days, Kejriwal is feeling more desperate because his status has been virtually reduced to the level of a personal assistant to Delhi’s LG Anil Baijal. Despite Kejriwal’s regular complaints, now LG Baijal is calling the shots in Delhi while Kejriwal has been relegated to a mere figurehead role.
A new law – the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act – makes it clear that the term “government” in Delhi means the LG of Delhi and the elected government of Kejriwal cannot take any decision independently. In other words, the Kejriwal government will have to take LG’s consent before taking any executive action.
Now if Delhi Police, CBI, or ED want to investigate crime and corruption of AAP leaders, they should hold the investigations in a transparent manner by live-streaming the hearings with them and making the findings of their probes public.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society.
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