While a section of the Indian populace looks on at Arvind Kejriwal and the newborn Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as the panacea to fix the political system and end endemic corruption, certain activists in the city are a tad more circumspect. With Mayank Gandhi and Anjali Damania, two associates of the activist-turned-neta, also facing graft-related accusations, detractors say the party’s internal Lokpal is just eyewash.
In a press conference earlier, activist and president of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association Viren Shah had levelled charges of stamp duty theft on property purchase by Gandhi. Shah claims immediately afterwards he had sent a mail to Kejriwal with documentary evidence of his assertions to which he got a reply but no action was taken.
New Beginnings: Arvind Kejriwal waves to his supporters during the launch of the Aam Aadmi Party in New Delhi on November 26. File Pic
“Wednesday morning, I once again reminded Kejriwal about the mail, but haven’t got a response. I had heard that people with proofs of wrongdoing by IAC/AAP members could send them to the party’s internal Lokpal. I am not sure the ombudsman would ever look into those documents. I am disappointed and wonder whether all this was a farce,” said Shah.
Another activist Krishnaraj Rao, who claims to have predicted in 2011 that the Hazare-Kejriwal anti-corruption movement would culminate in the creation of a political outfit, thinks Kejriwal formed the internal Lokpal to mislead the public.
“It’s been more than 40 days since Kejriwal announced the internal Lokpal and had claimed they would expedite such matters and soon a verdict would be delivered. The guilty would have to face consequences, he said. But what has happened now? Nothing. The public has almost forgotten the issue and no questions are being raised,” Rao said.Shah even raised doubts on the efficacy of the ombudsman.
“How can the internal ombudsman of a private party investigate a matter that concerns government officials? Under what authority would members of the internal Lokpal be able to call a government representative to question him? How will the common man present himself before the ombudsman? All this is preposterous,” said Shah.
Phone calls and SMSes from MiD DAY failed to elicit a response from Arvind Kejriwal. AAP member in Mumbai Preeti Sharma Menon indicated that since the internal Lokpal has been reconstituted recently, any investigations would require more time. “Former Chief Justice of Jharkhand High Court Bhagwati Prasad Sharma and former Navy Chief Admiral L Ramdass have now taken over the matter and are probing it. A report would be out soon,” she told MiD DAY.