Rajat Sharma

Kejriwal and his AAP: Caught in a web of bribes, desertions

akb fullDelhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party is facing fresh problems with one of his candidates in Gujarat, Kanchan Jariwala, withdrawing from election fray amidst allegations of abduction, while in Delhi, three persons, including a brother-in-law of an AAP MLA, have been arrested in a ‘cash for ticket’ double-cross drama.

Anti Corruption Bureau officials said, Gopal Khari, husband of AAP worker Shobha Khari had lodged a complaint that AAP MLA Akhileshpati Tripathi had demanded Rs 90 lakh for giving an MCD election ticket to his wife.

ACB officials said, “the complainant Gopal Khari had claimed that he paid Rs 35 lakh to Akhileshpati Tripathi and Rs 20 lakh to Wazirpur AAP MLA Rajesh Gupta as bribe. A trap was laid and three persons, Om Singh, said to be Tripathi’s brother-in-law, and his associates Shiv Shankar Pandey alias Vishal Pandey and Prince Raghuvanshi, were arrested and Rs 22 lakh cash was recovered.”

The ‘utmost honesty’ (kattar imaandar) claim of Kejriwal seems to have taken a beating with the surfacing of the video in which it is clearly shown that cash was being exchanged for getting an AAP ticket in the MCD elections. After watching the video, AAP leaders were at a loss how to react to it.

First, some details about the ‘cash for ticket’ scam. Two AAP MLAs Akhileshpati Tripathi and Rajesh Gupta reportedly demanded Rs 90 lakh for giving a party ticket in MCD polls. They reportedly took Rs 55 lakh as advance and the rest was to be given after the ticket was issued. ACB officials said, Shiv Shankar Pandey was the front man for MLA Tripathi, and he had been issued a Legislative Assembly entry pass.

On November 9, Gopal Khari, an old AAP worker met Model Town MLA Tripathi, and, according to him, Tripathi and Wazirpur MLA Rajesh Gupta demanded Rs 90 lakh from him at the meeting. Gopal Khari told ACB that he had given Rs 35 lakh cash to Tripathi, and Rs 20 lakh to Rajesh Gupta. These amounts were collected by the MLAs’ men Om Singh and the MLA’s PA Shiv Shankar Pandey, Khari claimed.

How did the can of worms spill out? It so happened that Gopal Khari found that his wife was not going to get the ticket and he started putting pressure on Tripathi. The MLA then returned Rs 33 lakh out of the Rs 35 lakh paid money, to Khari through Om Singh and Prince Raghuvanshi. When Tripathi’s men came to return the money, Khari made a video of the same.

In the video, Khari is shown speaking to Om Singh on phone and telling him that there were Rs 2 lakh missing in the money. “There is one bundle of Rs 2000 currency notes missing”, he told him. Om Singh promised to check. Khari again asked Prince to count the currency bundles, and told Singh that Rs 2 lakh was missing. In another video, Om Singh was shown telling Gopal Khari that since two Gurjar candidates cannot be fielded from one seat, his wife failed to get the ticket. Khari handed over these videos to ACB, following which the three persons were arrested and Rs 22 lakh cash was seized.

BJP leader Kapil Mishra alleged that the cash was meant for Kejriwal and his AAP associate Durgesh Pathak. “AAP leaders were selling tickets for MCD polls. They want to introduce Kejriwal model of corruption in MCD.”

South Delhi BJP MP Ramesh Bidhuri alleged that Rs 90 lakh was not meant for both the AAP MLAs. “There were three other MLAs”, he added. He challenged Kejriwal to expel both the MLAs Akhileshpati Tripathi and Rajesh Gupta.

It was left to Deputy CM Manish Sisodia to field questions. He said, “it does not matter who gave money to whom. The fact of the matter is that AAP ticket was not given. This is a silver lining for us. AAP ticket is not given even after bribe is given.” Om Singh and Shiv Shankar Pandey have been sent to two days’ police custody, while Prince Raghuvanshi has been sent to judicial custody. Congress leader Alka Lamba lambasted Kejriwal and asked: “Where is his Lokpal and his honesty now? Why is Kejriwal silent?”

Complainant Gopal Khari now says he is fearing for his life. Khari said, he was getting threats.

I want to remind Arvind Kejriwal how he had advised common people to make videos of corruption and bribery, when he took over as chief minister of Delhi in 2013. Gopal Khari did the same. I would also like to remind what Kejriwal said when he was contesting elections. He told voters to take bribe from candidates before polling, but should not cast vote in his favour. It seems, his MLAs have taken this advice to heart. They took bribe, but did not give the party ticket.

Sisodia is openly saying that people do not get AAP ticket even after paying bribes. But both Kejriwal and Sisodia should realize one fact. In this case, the bribe giver, the bribe taker, the person counting cash and the man making the video and reporting to police – all of them belong to Aam Aadmi Party. Kejriwal cannot blamed the BJP at least in this case, because everything has been recorded on video. Those claiming to be ‘kattar’ (utmostly) honest are now fumbling for answers after watching the videos.

Another matter of concern for Kejriwal was in Surat, nearly 1,100 km away from Delhi. Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia alleged that one of their candidates was kidnapped by BJP in Surat, and was missing. But by Wednesday evening, the AAP candidate Kanchan Jariwala came before cameras to say that he has decided to quit the electoral fray due to pressure from his supporters. Jariwala rubbished allegations of abduction.

The fact is, Jariwala himself went underground as he had decided not to contest after filing his nomination from Surat (East). Jariwala went to the office of Returning Officer, withdrew his nomination, and left within five minutes, in full view of media. Kejriwal tweeted that ” our candidates are being forced by goons and police to withdraw their nominations. This type of open hooliganism has never been witnessed before in India. Then what is the use of elections? Democracy is in peril.”

AAP Gujarat in-charge Raghav Chadha tweeted: “Watch how police and BJP goons together – dragged our Surat East candidate Kanchan Jariwala to the RO office, forcing him to withdraw his nomination. The term ‘free and fair election’ has become a joke!”

In Delhi, Manish Sisodia along with AAP workers sat on a dharna outside the Election Commission headquarters. Later, an AAP delegation met the Election Commission officials and handed over a memorandum, which was forwarded to Gujarat chief electoral officer.

Gujarat AAP chief Gopal Italia alleged that Kanchan Jariwala had been missing since Tuesday, when the nominations were undergoing scrutiny. “He came to the Returning Officer’s office, surrounded by BJP men. Jariwala was threatened and beaten up. He did not withdraw the nomination of his own will”, Italia said.

This allegation is nailed by a video of Jariwala meeting the RO. In the video, the Returning Officer clearly asked Jariwala several times, whether he is under any pressure, or fear, or inducements, and Jariwala replied: “I am withdrawing my nomination of my own will and without any pressure. I have nothing to say more. Later, India TV reporter spoke to Kanchan Jariwala. He said: “Nobody threatened me, nor was I kidnapped. We were at our relative’s house due to pressure from my supporters. My supporters were unhappy that I was contesting on AAP ticket. That’s why I withdrew my nomination after consulting my family and supporters.”

AAP leader Raghav Chadha, who rushed to Surat, said, “whatever Jariwala may claim, he was under severe pressure. Till three days ago, he was campaigning hard, what happened in the last 24 hours that he has started saying all this, and withdrew his nomination. Hooliganism is taking place, there is ‘jungle raj’ in Gujarat and police is watching silently.”

It is up to the ‘kattar’ (utmostly) honest leader to reply who kidnapped whom, who pressurized Jariwala to withdraw, and who indulged in hooliganism. Those making allegations are from AAP, and the person who is replying, is also from AAP. Whom should the common voter trust?

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