By Aglaia Staff

Less than two weeks before the capital goes to polls for the all-important Assembly polls considered a semi-final of sorts before the general elections of 2014, challenger Aam Aadmi Party, pegged by every opinion poll as set to have a fantastic debut, received its bigest jolt yet following a sting operation that showed AAP leaders accepting funds without proper verification of the donors.

AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal put up a brave face, saying the party expected “many more sting operations” and added that anybody found guilty upon examination of the footage from the sting operation would face action.


The sting operation, conducted by Media Sarkar, alleged that several leaders of AAP, who were contacted for their help in recovery of money from individuals and getting land deals done, readily agreed to extend their support in return of donations in cash to AAP. The video purportedly shows Ilmi telling a woman, who claims to be a representative of a company seeking AAP’s help to teach a lesson to a rival company, that the party would not do anything without valid and legal documents and evidence of wrongdoing. Later, Ilmi allegedly agreed to help and is shown in the video telling the reporter that the party does accept donations in cash. Sting operations were also done on other AAP candidates and members.

One of these is star campaigner Kumar Vishwas, a very close associate of Kejriwal. He is shown on camera telling a reporter posing as the representative of an event firm that he is willing to accept a cash donation. Vishwas later told CNN-IBN that there is nothing wrong in accepting Rs 50,000 in cash. As if the sting operations were not enough, Vishwas is also facing investigation in First Information Report filed under section 295 A (deliberate and malicious act to outrage religious feelings).

This was after over 250 people from the Valmiki community protested outside the Farsh Bazar Police Station in Delhi. The members of the valmiki samaj alleged that Vishwas had called Valmiki a ‘daaku’. That was not all. On Thursday, activist Shehzad Poonawalla — recently in the news for objecting to an advertisement on a real estate portal stating that a property was “not for Muslims” — also wrote to the Delhi Police and the National Commission for Minorities alleging that Vishwas had made offensive remarks mocking the ‘maatam; or mourning procession of Shia Muslims on Moharram.

Poonawalla’s complaint, with a video attached, said Vishwas, a member of the National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party, had made a joke about a Moharram procession. In his complaint, Poonawalla has said Vishwas also “implies through imputation and innuendo that the mourners are backward and uneducated”. Poonawalla has sought an FIR against Vishwas and action from the Election Commission of India. In an open letter to Kejriwal, Poonawalla asks if the party supports Kumar Vishwas’s statements. “Would you and your party be ready to tender an unconditional apology to the Muslims especially Shias who have felt extremely hurt by these remarks?” he asked. The response from AAP to the sting operations has been on expected lines — the party spokespersons called it a conspiracy, then followed it up with promises of action.

On a debate on Times Now, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said, while admitting that the motive of those making the allegations cannot be reason to discredit the allegations themselves, “Let the truth trump — that is good for India.”

That was perhaps the first indication that the AAP was on the back foot, just days after announcing a lofty set of poll promises panned as too ambitious and possibly impossible to bankroll. In a further setback,the party’s National Council member Surajeet Dasgupta resigned following the sting operation. According to this report, he cited lack of inner party democracy. That AAP candidates are caught on television allegedly stating that it is possible to use donor funds without identifying donors flies in the face of the AAP’s own contentions that it has a strictly managed policy of issuing receipts and also identifying donors on its website.

After a long meeting of party leaders on Thursday evening, Ilmi offered to resign while claiming that she had done no wrong, even as the party sought 24 hours to seek the raw footage of the sting operation and examine it carefully. But the damage may have been done. “The accusations could damage the party’s credibility, given the high standards it has set for itself,” said a report in The Economic Times.

The AAP also issued a statement citing the string of allegations they have been subjected to in recent days. But, as Yadav said, irrespective of the motive or the source of the allegations, for a party that has made transparency and fight against corruption its main plank, the allegations and their timing could prove to be a too heavy burden.




 How A Sting Operation Dents AAPs Run In Delhi
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