Aam Aadmi Party and the Delhi election scene was rocked by a press-conference by a purported volunteer group (AVAM) of the party itself. Media houses, AAP detractors and rival parties were quick to add fuel to the fire by spreading misinformation on television and social media. Soon #AAPFundingScam was the top trending topic in India. The BJP, bereft of any real agenda and leadership with just days left for the polls, was quick to latch on to this controversy to attack Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party for violating its primary goal of clean and clear political funding. But lets delve into the details and try to ascertain the facts and the purpose behind this controversy.
What is AVAM?
AVAM (Aam Aadmi Party Volunteers Action Manch) is an independent organisation consisting of some ‘former’ AAP volunteers and members and is not connected to the party in any way. This is contrary to what channels like CNN-IBN and Times Now have been reporting – that AVAM is a group of AAP volunteers. AVAM founders, Karan Singh and Gopal Goel, were thrown out of AAP in August 2014 after they were found to be indulging in anti-party activities and, thus, the duo have been spreading false propaganda ever since to defame Kejriwal and AAP. The picture below is a snapshot of the mail sent to AVAM founder Karan Singh by the Disciplinary Committee of AAP headed by Ashutosh, Atishi Marlena and Satyender Jain.
A good look at their Twitter handle shows how they’ve been targeting every activity of AAP ever since the so-called ‘volunteer group’ was formed. Infact, they’ve been seen supporting BJP on many accounts and the same is reflected in many of their tweets.
They’ve also been campaigning vehemently against AAP for the upcoming elections and they were trying to misinform the public for their own selfish motives in Connaught Place during AAP’s visibility campaign in the same area on February 01, 2015.
Now listen to the following video carefully. Both Gopal Goel and Karan Singh are seen accepting cash as they say ”Poori hawa badal denge” and ”wicket gira denge”.
Another of AVAM’s leading members, Neil Terrance Haslam, who was present in the conference, is a member of the BJP (as reported by NDTV). He’s also an ex-volunteer of AAP and has been posting updates on his Facebook profile with the hashtag #NeilStrikesBack
Aam Aadmi Party had also put up a disclaimer on their website after the formation of AVAM, cautioning supporters and public not to associate the organisation with the party.
The members of AVAM are disgruntled former volunteers of AAP and it’s quite clear that they’re motive, after being unceremoniously expelled by AAP, was to exact their revenge on the party by continuing the activities which initially got them the boot from Aam Aadmi Party.
The timing of the revelation definitely raises suspicion of a link with the BJP as Arvind Kejriwal had recently stated his apprehensions with respect to false stories and propaganda being planted in the media by rival parties and other political factions.
The funding scam
The scam relates to four transactions made in April 2014, before the Lok Sabha elections. Each donation is worth 50 lakh and AVAM has alleged that these companies are nothing but shell companies set up for money laundering. The addresses of these companies have been traced to rural areas in Delhi (investigated by Times Now).
Even if all facts are accepted and taken into account, how does that make AAP responsible for the wrongdoings of a private company? Aam Aadmi Party takes all donations through cheques, netbanking, credit card, debit card etc, which are all clean forms of financial transactions, governed by financial and banking regulations. Tomorrow, if you were to donate an illegally accumulated amount to the party, would that make the party liable for your financial irregularities? How is the party supposed to check for internal financial aspects of a private organisation?
Yes, in the past AAP has claimed that all donations above Rs. 10 lakhs are checked and ratified by the Parliamentary Affairs Committee and there’s definitely some shortcoming on that part. Isn’t the Registrar of Companies and the banks responsible for registering and aiding companies which have forged addresses and directors? But Arvind Kejriwal has already voiced his response and has categorically stated that he’s open to any investigation by any authority.
“We’ve taken all donations by cheque. If the companies raised that money through some sort of violations, then how are we responsible for that?” asked Mr Kejriwal on a show organized by NDTV. “Please punish me if anything wrong is found,” he added.
Another allegation levelled by BJP is that the transactions were made at midnight so that it could evade the eyes of the general public. Kejriwal has clarified that “all cheque donations post realisation in banks are uploaded on the website in a batch process during night hours, therefore the malicious campaign about transactions at midnight is completely incorrect.” Moreover, all the transactional details are available round the clock on the website.
AAP is the only party with a transparent funding process
The biggest irony of this entire episode is the fact that all the details of the transactions, the amount, date and time, name of companies was taken from the AAP website. Do you think the party would have put up the details on the internet for the world to see if they were laundering money or indulging in illegal financial transactions? Would an ATM robber put up the CCTV footage of his robbery on Youtube?
If not for AAP’s transparent funding methodology, these details would’ve never been out in the open and subject to investigation and scrutiny. The very fact that these details are openly available indicates that AAP has not indulged in any financial irregularity.
The most shocking aspect has been the vigour and strength with which BJP and Congress have attacked AAP on this issue. Parties, whose 85% source of funds is unaccounted for, have no right to vilify someone else on the issue of political funding. Had AAP not revealed every penny of its donations to the public, this issue would’ve never seen the dawn of the day, like all funding of BJP, Congress and other major political parties.
This entire episode is nothing but a well-planned conspiracy of the BJP which had seen its other political ‘masterstrokes’ fail one by one. It was quite evident that Aam Aadmi Party were giving a tough fight to the BJP and were on course for matching BJP seat for seat, if not more. The timing of the revelation is the biggest giveaway, apart from the profile of the conspirators and the footage given by BJP-allied media houses (CNN-IBN, IndiaTV, Zee News et al) who were all present at the press-conference of the previously unknown AVAM organisation.