Monday, June 17, 2024

AAP Claims “Conspiracy” After Probe Agency Says It Got Illegal Foreign Funds


Delhi Chief Minister and AAP boss Arvind Kejriwal (File).

New Delhi:

Delhi’s ruling AAP – locked in a political row with the BJP over Arvind Kejriwal‘s arrest and assault allegations by Swati Maliwal against his aide – is on the defensive yet again, this time after the Enforcement Directorate alleged the party received Rs 7 crore from donors in Canada, the United States, the Middle East, New Zealand, and Australia between 2014 and 2022.

A furious AAP leader Atishi hit back at the claim Monday evening, declaring herself “very angry with (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi) and accusing the BJP – which she said is “clearly losing all 20 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and Punjab – of orchestrating political attacks via the federal agency.

“After the failure of the liquor scam and the Swati Maliwal case, now the BJP has brought this case (back)… this clear shows BJP is losing the twenty seats of Delhi and Punjab. (But) all this is not going to work. This is not the ED’s action… but the BJP. I know I am very angry with Modi,” Atishi said.

The Delhi PWD Minister pointed out the charges against her party stem from a case that is 11 years old, and one to which “all answers have been given to ED, Central Bureau of Investigation, Home Ministry, and Election Commission”. “This is a conspiracy by Modi to defame AAP,” Atishi raged.

“BJP does this before every election… many such false allegations will be made over the next four days (before Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats vote, all of which were won by the BJP last time),” she said.

AAP Got Illegal Foreign Funds, Claims ED

Earlier today ED sources told NDTV the AAP’s receipt of foreign funds between 2014 and 2022 violated provisions of the FCRA, or Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. The law says parties cannot take foreign funds.

According to the agency, many of the donors recorded identical passport, credit card, and mobile phone numbers, as well as e-mail IDs. A confidential report to the Home Ministry, which has been leaked, indicates that 155 people living abroad donated Rs 1.02 crore on 404 occasions.

The ED has claimed each donation is linked to one of only 55 passports, and that the AAP, to avoid restrictions, hid donor identities and routed the funds directly into an account with IDBI Bank Ltd.

This alleged breach of the law came to light, agency sources have said, during inquiries into a drug smuggling case involving former AAP MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who is now with the Congress.

Documents seized in a raid of his home contained information on the donors, the ED has alleged. Some of the funds were allegedly siphoned by other AAP leaders for personal use.

AAP’s 2013 Foreign Funds Case

This is not the first time the AAP has been accused of receiving foreign funds.

As far back as 2013 – when the Congress-led UPA government was in power – the AAP was linked to foreign funding. Mr Kejriwal had then said the Congress, now its ally under the INDIA umbrella, is “scared of the AAP” and dared it to also probe foreign funds received by itself and the BJP.

READ | AAP Did Not Get Illegal Foreign Funds: Centre To High Court

That same year the Association for Democratic Reforms approached the Delhi High Court claiming the BJP and Congress had received tens of crores via Indian subsidiaries of foreign companies.

READ | Plea For CBI Probe Into AAP’s Funding Junked By High Court

Two years later the Union Home Ministry told the High Court it had found no evidence and, months later, a petition seeking a full-fledged probe was junked, saying there was no reason to intervene.

READ | “Answer These Points”: Home Ministry To AAP On Foreign Funding

However, two years after that the centre once again asked the AAP to explain funds received from foreign sources and sent a notice to the party. The AAP hit back with claims of a “witch hunt”.

AAP Vs BJP In Election RunUp

The AAP and the BJP have clashed over multiple issues in the past weeks and months, with rancour ramped up ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.

This has included Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest in March – by the Enforcement Directorate – in connection with the alleged liquor policy scam. The Chief Minister – a diabetes patient who claimed not to have received potentially life-saving insulin injections while in jail – was given bail till June 1 so he can campaign.

Swati Maliwal’s assault allegations – against Mr Kejriwal’s aide Bibhav Kumar – have also become a flashpoint between the AAP and the BJP, with the latter demanding the Chief Minister resign.

READ | Graffiti “Threatening” Kejriwal In Metro Trains, AAP Blames BJP

This morning the AAP accused the BJP of sponsoring threats against Mr Kejriwal. This was after graffiti was found inside Delhi Metro trains targeting the chief minister. Delhi Police is probing the claims.

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