Thali scam shows the moral project of Aam Aadmi Party is long dead

Vijendra Gupta, the leader of opposition in Delhi Assembly, has submitted a photocopy of the food bill claiming that the AAP has transgressed the law.

Written by Dr Munish Raizada | Updated: April 10, 2017 3:19 pm
union budget 2017, budget 2017, budget Delhi fund, kejriwal government, AAP on budget, Union Budget, Jaitley Budget, Arun Jaitley, indian express news  Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal with Deputy CM Manish Sisodia addressing a press conference at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI Photo

In February 2016, on the first anniversary of AAP-led Delhi government, a very exclusive but fat party was organised by the party’s convener, Arvind Kejriwal, at his place for AAP MLAs and leaders. Fifty guests were invited on the first day and the second day witnessed 30 guests. The total food bill of both the days amounted to Rs 11,04,357. That means per plate cost Rs 12,000 to Rs 16,000.

After almost 14 months of the indulgence, as the news broke out, there was an immediate public outcry. Even a Prime Ministerial or Presidential menu would be nowhere near this.

Vijendra Gupta, the leader of opposition in Delhi Assembly, has submitted a photocopy of the food bill claiming that the party has transgressed the law which says the maximum limit for an official buffet menu per plate cannot exceed Rs 2,500. And this malamaal thali was no less than Rs 16,000!

To this, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia reacted by calling it a ‘BJP prank’ to defame the party in the wake of MCD Elections. He further says that LG officers have been bribed by the BJP for floating the false and half information among the people. Six months before, he had denied that the bill was paid from the public treasury. So, there is no need to intentionally leak the fabricate synthetic rumours that too when the elections are nearby.

Well, as an AAP-ian, I feel ashamed and dare say that this no less than a scam. The thali scam (Thali Kand) deserves to be investigated.

AAP was supposed to be the lodestar of clean politics, but now its processes have been stymied.

In another recent incident, Deputy CM of Delhi Manish Sisodia had asked for legal fee of Ram Jethmalani for the personal defamation case filed by Arun Jaitley on Arvind Kejriwal to be paid by the state treasury. Why should the public pay for a case filed against an individual, who incidentally happens to be a CM? The CM office did not defame Arun Jaitley, Kejriwal did. But, it is clear that Kejriwal is bent upon misusing treasury for his personal expenses.

While all this was happening, in between came another bouncer for AAP. The LG asked our party to vacate the office space located at DDU Marg, New Delhi because the party had self–allocated a lavish space exceeding its powers. These three instances point to the phenomenon of increasing greed.

Our Aam Aadmi Party’s corrupt leadership started with hiding chanda (party funds), i.e., chanda chori. Now, they are eyeing sarkaari khajana (treasury), ie, khajana khori.

Not only have Arvind Kejriwal and his darbar indulged in lavish spending of tax payer’s money, but the present controversy also shows there was lack of due diligence by the government.

When caught, Sisodia is not only blaming the opposition as usual, he is trying to act saintly by saying he had already put a disapproval note on the bill. Is the government so incompetent that from chaprasi (peon) to CM in the CM office, no one ever knew how much each thali would cost before the order was placed? And if for months, the bills are still pending, what kind of efficiency Kejriwal is claiming in his government?

Unfortunately, the moral project of Aam Aadmi Party is long dead. Over the last five months, we at ‘Chanda Bandh Satyagraha’ have been demanding our leadership to restore the principle of financial transparency but to no avail. As you might know, our Aam Aadmi Party claims it is 100 per cent transparent in financial dealings and each donation is shown on the website. But in actuality, the party’s corrupt leaders have scrapped the list of donors from the official website of the party since June 2016. More amazingly, they have refused to present the annual balance sheet after March 2014. Our party cannot keep its own money clean, but we keep shouting of making India corruption-free. This is akin to Pakistan showing resolve to fight terrorism. Two days back, Anna Hazare, reacting to Shunglu Committee’s adverse report on Kejriwal government, stated that Kejriwal had shattered his dream of fighting corruption. Anna added that it was the Lord who gave him wisdom to keep away (from Kejriwal) or even “my reputation would be ruined.”

What more could have been said.

 

The author is a suspended member of Aam Aadmi Party and former co-convener of NRI cell of the party. He is convener of Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against AAP. The views expressed are of the author. Twitter @DrMunishRaizada

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