On December 24, 2016, we launched Chanda Bandh Satyagraha (No List: No Donation Campaign) against opaque funding practices of Aam Aadmi Party from Raj Ghat. After seeking inspiration from Gandhiji, we initiated our pledge drive from the same Valmiki Basti in New Delhi Assembly area where four years back, AAP launched its party symbol broom with a promise to fight corruption and undertake politics with clean money. But today, a group of corrupt leaders have hijacked the party and has badly faltered from AAP’s objective of financial transparency.
Why Satyagraha? In India, we have over 1900 political parties. Despite a flooding of political parties and people asking us why are you trying to re-invent the wheel, a group of torch bearers of India Against Corruption insisted on creating a new party with an emphasis: “Corruption –free India is not only my demand, it is my insistence” (Bhrastachaar mukt Bharat meri maang hee nahi, meri jidd hai).
Thus, financial transparency is the raison detere for Aam Aadmi Party. The party claims that it will operate with 100 per cent transparency in its financial procedures and practices. Have a look at Aam Aadmi Party’s Donation Policy: “The Aam Aadmi Party will operate with 100% transparency in its financial procedures and practices. Every single rupee donated to the party will be published on the website immediately along with the details of the donor. Every expense done by the party will also be published on the website.”
But in practice the party has scrapped Donors’ List from its website since June 2016. If you visit the page of Donation List of AAP, it says: Page under construction. New version Coming Soon!
This ‘new version coming soon’ has been there so long that the New year has ushered in! As the media pressure grew, AAP then started blaming the opposition party of targeting its donors. It is using this excuse of political vendetta to ‘shield’ its donors. But, the principle of transparency follows all or none law: either you are transparent or you are not, there is no in between. Also, by hiding donations, the party is clearly messing up with its objective of clean politics. Political funding is a challenging issue and today all over the world; political parties have to grapple with 3 Cs: corruption, clientelism, and clan. How can a party that cannot keep itself clean in terms of money even think of making a corruption-free India!
Thus, we have started this Satyagraha to request the party to stay true to its promise to the people and voters.
1. On 5th Foundation Day (Nov. 26, 2016) of AAP, I wrote an Open Letter to AAP appealing to put donors’ list in public domain in a view. Link
2. Dec 4, 2016 (after the lapse of one-week time): we started an online Pledge and we are appealing to the public to take this pledge: I take a pledge NOT to donate to Aam Aadmi Party UNTIL it starts making its donations public.
3. Satyagraha on the ground: On Dec. 22, 2016, we visited Anna Hazareji- the man who led India Against Corruption movement and from where AAP was born. We explained to him the whole issue of AAP hiding the donations and the fact that the party leadership had failed to make annual balance sheet public since March 2014. Anna was clearly disturbed over this. Next day, he shot a letter to Arvind Kejriwal (with cc to me) expressing deep concern over lack of financial transparency in the party.
With our Satyagraha getting moral support from Anna ji, we are now reaching out to the public via signature drive. At busy places in Delhi, we distribute handbills and ask people to sign a pledge not to donate to Aam Aadmi Party until it makes its donations public.
In 10 days from the launch of the campaign, we have distributed more than 70,000 handbills and more than 10,000 people have signed the pledge.
The purpose of the Chanda Bandh Satyagraha is to ask Aam Aadmi Party to restore the principle of Financial Transparency. It is a message to the party to walk the talk. It is also exposing the hypocrisy of the party that came into power on the slogan: Bhrastachaar ka ek hee kaal: Kejriwal, Kejriwal. Well, now the party leadership has hidden the donations under the carpet!