Destiny has cast a heavy responsibility on Delhi voters. On April 23 this year,they have to decide whether to atone for their mistakes in 2014 and 2015 and start the process of dumping Arvind Kejriwal (AK) and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the dustbin of history or to give him and his party opportunity to do more damage to democracy in India. A resounding defeat of the AAP will be a trailer to its defeat in Delhi Assembly election in 2020 which is badly needed to get rid of an undemocratic political ‘leader’ who has been misleading people.
In my opinion, AK will go down in history for all wrong reasons: as a politician who aroused maximum hope and also gave maximum disappointment; as a Chief Minister (CM) who had neither knowledge of nor respect for the country’s Constitution and laws; as a politician who lacked maturity and smartness, was foul-mouthed, highly egoistic and self-opinionated and considered all others either mischievous or stupid; and last but least, as a politician and CM who considered Narendra Modi as his biggest rival without any of Modi’s qualities.
I have solid reasons for making such strong statements. Like many others, I too was happy to see his entry in politics but unlike many others, my disappointment started soon after he resigned from the post of CM on February 14, 2015.
Beginning of disappointment
It is one thing to have high ambition, it is quite different to have the capability to achieve that. Soon after becoming CM in December 2014, he started behaving like an utter novice and started saying ‘care two hoots’ for the Constitution and law. He introduced Jan Lokpal Bill – a money bill – in the Assembly without the mandatory prior recommendation of the Lieutenant Governor (LG).When the Bill was not supported by non-AAP parties, he resigned crying that opposition parties were preventing him from fighting corruption.
Soon after resigning, he launched his mission to widen his political base. On February 25, 2014, addressing an audience of prominent Muslim academics and intelligentsia at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi, he declared that “Communalism is a bigger problem in front of the country than corruption.” He sent a message, loud and clear, that as a politician, he would play to the gallery.
Illegal activities and corrupt practices of AAP MLAs and Ministers
On March 30, 2012 (before AAPwas formed), in response to a privilege notice served on him for ‘insulting Parliament’, AK said, “How can one respect an institution, which has members with a criminal background?”
On February 14, 2015, after taking oath as CM, he promised corruption-free Delhi and warned his ministers and party MLAs against arrogance.The idea of formation of a political party comprising only honest and straightforward persons capable of winning a sufficient number of seats to form a government contains its own antithesis. If there are so many honest persons available to form a large political party, win elections on the strength of their honest character and form the government, then there should be no corruption in the country. Most of the people who are honest and straightforward prefer to stay away from active politics.
AAP has proved my hypothesis. One cannot become honest and straightforward just by wearing a cap and holding a broom or even changing his attire. AAP is perhaps the only party with about 30% of its lawmakers (CM, Deputy CM, one serving Minister, 3 former ministers and 14 MLAs,) who are facing or have faced charges, major or minor, for offences post-election. 13 lawmakers were released on bail. The only saving grace is that the two were cleared of all charges.
Here is the colourful record of AK and his colleagues in the present Delhi Assembly.
|S. No.||Name & Designation||Charge/Offence|
|Arvind Kejriwal – Chief Minister||First Delhi CM to stand trial in a criminal defamation case. Delhi Chief Metropolitan Magistrate gave the order in a defamation case filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. Though the case is against AK in his personal capacity, he wants Delhi government to pay ₹ 3.42 cr. as a fee of a lawyer fee who is not even on the government’s approved panel.|
|22||Manish Sisodia – Dy. Chief Minister||CBI has started an enquiry about alleged irregularities in a contract to a private firm for a social media campaign, “Talk to AK”.|
|33||Satyendar Jain – Health Minister||In over 100 raids, Income tax Department unearthed properties worth ₹ 33 crores in form of land and shares in companies allegedly linked toJain and has initiated action against him under the Benami Property Transaction Act.CBI it is also enquiring into allegations of corruption and money laundering of ₹ 13.69 crores.|
|44||Sandeep Kumar – FormerWomen & Child Welfare Minister||Arrestedafter a woman in a sex CD filed a case accusing him of raping her. Sacked by AK.|
|55||Asim Ahmed Khan – Former Minister||Sacked on corruption charge|
|66||Jitender SinghTomar – Former Law Minister||Forging of two of his degrees and a migration certificate. Was arrested in 2015 and spent a month-and-a-half in Delhi’s Tihar jail. The 200-page charge sheet filed in a Delhi court against him covers 15 others including his personal assistant, University staffers and touts for being part of a “fake degree racket”|
|7||Somnath Bharti – MLA (Minister in first Kejriwal government)||Arrested in December 2015 after his wife registered a case against him on charges of attempt to murder and domestic violence. Arrested on Sept 9, 2016, for damaging AIIMS’ property and assaulting the security guards there.|
|8||Gulab Singh – MLA||Extortion|
|9||Manoj Kumar – MLA||Arrested on July 10, 2015, on charges of alleged cheating and land-grabbing. He has also appeared before the Delhi Commission for Women in a case of domestic violence.|
|10||Amanatullah Khan – MLA||Arrested following an alleged sexual harassment case filed by his relative.|
|11||Sharad Chauhan – MLA||Abatement of suicide of a woman AAP volunteer|
|12||Akhilesh Tripathi – MLA||Sexual harassment and molestation|
|13||Naresh Yadav – MLA||Arrested for blasphemy against the Quran in Punjab on June 24, 2016.|
|14||Dinesh Mohaniya – MLA||Arrested in June 2016 on charges of molestation and sexual harassment. A second FIR was also filed against him in June 2016 for slapping a 60-year-old man.|
|15||Prakash Jarwal – MLA||Arrested on charges of molesting a woman in July 2016. Earlier in 2014 arrested for slapping a Delhi Jal Board employee.|
|16 & 17||Sanjeev Jha & Akhilesh Tripathi – MLAs||Arrested for rioting and injuring police persons when they led a mob that stormed a police station to get an FII registered against AAP opponents on February 21, 2015|
|18||Jarnail Singh – MLA||Arrested for assaulting a junior engineer of municipal Corporation (later he resigned to contest Punjab election which he lost.)|
|19||Surender Singh – MLA||Arrested on August 21, 2016, for allegedly making casteist remarks against an NDMC official.|
|20||Jagdeep Singh – MLA||Arrested in May 2016, on charges of assault when he bashed up the manager of a waste management company.|
In addition, two candidates were arrested before the election on February 7, 2015: Ram Niwas Goel (now Speaker of the Assembly) on charges of raiding a builder’s house and trespassing; and Naresh Balyean ( now MLA) when Delhi police seized 5000 bottles of liquor from him.
Of course, almost invariably AK supports his colleagues and accuses Prime Minister Modi of misusing CBI, income tax (IT) and police for harassing his ‘innocent’ colleagues.
The party itself has faced several allegations. For example:
- On February 2, 2015, group of former AAP members alleged that four Delhi-based bogus companies – which existed only on paper – donated ₹ 50 lakh each on April 5, 2014. My own investigations show that the allegations were not baseless. Those interested in details may read my blog on the issue.(http://devendranarain.blogspot.com.devendranarain.biz/2016/08/aam-adami-partys-anti-corruption-is.html0
- In December 2016, IT department issued a notice to AAP to explain discrepancies in the donors’ list submitted to the Department and what had been put up on the party website. As usual, the party claimed total transparency and accounts and condemn the notice as “malicious”.
- On 17/2/2017, Enforcement Directorate served an eviction notice two AAP office in Patna alleging that the property had been bought with the cash fraudulently withdrawn from banks by a private business house involved in money-laundering in the past. Eight persons including two state bank officers involved in the case have also been arrested.
- In March this year, a former AAP youth leader and his elder brother were arrested in connection with a robbery case on March 12.
Illegal/unfair means adopted to keep MLAs on his side
AK has adopted several illegal/unfair means to ensure that party MLAs and important workers continue to support him.
- In March 2015, 21 MLAs were appointed Parliamentary secretaries. When legal questions were raised, in June 2015, Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, was amended to exempt the post from the definition of the office of profit. However, the President declined approval to the proposed amendment. The issue of their disqualification is still pending before the Election Commission.
- On March 24, 2017, BJP alleged that Delhi government appointed 11 AAP MLAs as co-chairpersons of district disaster management committees, violating the Disaster Management Act, 2005. BJP as well as that the 2005 Act provided for only a local body elected representative’s appointment as co-chairman who presides over the committee in chairman’s the absence.
- In December 2015 Delhi government sent to LG five legislative proposals seeking four-fold salary hike of Delhi MLAs, Ministers, Speaker and Dy. Speaker, Leader of the Opposition and Chief Whip in the Assembly (a Delhi MLA’s pay packet will increase from ₹ 88,000 to ₹ 2.1 lakh per month, the highest in the country). Home Ministry to which LG forwarded the proposals sought clarifications in May 2016. The Ministry is not satisfied with Delhi government’s reply.
- Many Mohalla Clinics are reportedly operating from AAP workers’ premises at inflated rents.
READ Part-2: Will Delhi save India on April 23? (Part-2)
(The author is former bureaucrat and views expressed are personal)