The list cuts across party lines and includes 14 from congress, four from BJP, two each from NCP and DMK – plus M K Alagiri who has just been expelled – and one each from SP, BSP, NC, YSR Congress and JD(S). There are no politicians from the Left parties, Trinamool Congress and BJD, among others.
Among those accused by Kejriwal of being corrupt are Rahul Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Nitin Gadkari, A Raja, Kanimozhi, Sharad Pawar, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Suresh Kalmadi, Mulayam Singh and Mayawati. CPM leader Brinda Karat said the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi not being on the list is a “glaring absence”.
Within hours, the first reactions came with the BJP’s Nitin Gadkari sending a legal notice, asking how Kejriwal could yet again name him in such a list when Kejriwal is yet to substantiate allegations made against him in October 2012. Kejriwal has been asked to withdraw Gadkari’s name within three days and apologise before news channels or face legal action. The National Conference’s Farooq Abdullah too threatened legal action.
Although Modi’s name was not on the list, Kejriwal took a dig at both Rahul and him when he accused them of having spent Rs 500 crore each on getting image makeovers. Asked about Modi’s exclusion, AAP spokespersons said that this is “only the first list and will be revised over time”.
“They spent Rs 500 crore for image make over…To prepare brand Modi and brand Rahul, they are spending Rs 500 crore. Can these people, who spend Rs 500 crore for branding, give an honest government? After they come to power, they will recover that money from us,” Kejriwal said. The AAP, he said, had entered politics with the agenda of cleansing and not to grab power. Fighting and defeating the corrupt would be the first step in that, he said and invited people to give more names to expand the list.
Many of the 28 names had featured in a list of 15 UPA ministers India Against Corruption, the forerunner of AAP, had alleged were corrupt and wanted investigated.
Names of politicians from outside UPA were added after discussions during the two-day national executive and national council meetings of the party, sources said. Unlike in July 2012, when Kejriwal, Anna Hazare and others had fasted for 10 days for special investigation teams and then announced the formation of a political party, AAP has not come out with a dossier of charges this time.
The dossier, party insiders said, is being prepared and will be shared with voters. The first list the party releases will be of candidates contesting against those among these 28 leaders fighting Lok Sabha elections. This will be followed by candidates against 73 sitting MPs who are accused of heinous crimes and then 88 others, who according to the Association of Democratic Reforms, have criminal cases against them, albeit not of a heinous nature. Kejriwal launched a tirade against all political parties for what he said was defrauding the nation for 65 years.
“We trusted these parties for 65 years and thought that they will do good to the nation, but they betrayed us. After 65 years, we have an opportunity that a common man will go inside Parliament and talk about his rights,” Kejriwal said. Some politicians who featured in the list spoke out against what they said was its arbitrariness. “I am happy that my name figured in the list. I will go to the court and answer… I will ask him (Kejriwal) also,” Abdullah said.
Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and BJP MP Anurag Thakur refused to comment. “What moral right Kejriwal has to speak against corruption after taking the support of most corrupt party to run his government? He is now exposed that after making several charges against Sheila Dikshit, he has not raised a single finger against her after becoming the chief minister himself despite Lokayukta report and other findings against her. He is targeting other politicians wherever he wants to contest by spit and run strategy,” BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar said.
“It is amusing to find Arvind Kejriwal assuming the role of judge and passing judgements on everybody. In my case, the process is complete. A detailed investigation has been carried out and after two months of detailed investigation, the chargesheet has been filed and my name does not figure in the chargesheet. I am rather cited as a prosecution witness and the court has taken cognizance of that,” said former railways minister Pawan Bansal said.