No Lokayukta in AAP to probe graft charges against Damania
State executive member of Kejriwal's party has been accused of buying farmland illegally; no action has been taken 6 months after a probe was ordered; party says there's no complaint against her
It’s a little out of line that the man vociferously demanding a Lokpal to snuff out corruption in the nation has a member in his party facing graft charges yet not investigated because his party does not have a Lokayukta in the state even though he had promised instituting one.
Arvind Kejriwal, convener of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was at the forefront to institute a Lokpal to battle graft. But with Anjali Damania, AAP’s state executive member from Maharashtra, facing allegations of corruption, the absence of a party Lokayukta in the state stands out in relief against his clamour.
Kejriwal had announced an internal inquiry by AAP’s intra-party Lokpal against Damania. However, party sources say a Lokayukta, not a Lokpal, should investigate allegations against her, as she’s a member of the state unit of the party.
The irony is that six months after Kejriwal announced the investigation, the AAP is still hunting for a viable candidate for a Lokayukta in Maharashtra. In October 2012, days before announcing his party, Kejriwal had ordered an investigation into the matter.
According to a party source, there are allegations against Damania of having bought farmland despite not being a farmer. Damania has refuted the claims time and again. Even in the graft case against state convener Mayank Gandhi, it took AAP nearly three months to start investigations. Gandhi has been alleged to have unfavourable links with builders.
“The party’s head in the state has been looking for an eminent retired judge for the last few months so that he can be made Lokayukta. But we’re finding it difficult to get someone,” said a party source. When contacted, state convener Gandhi confirmed that there’s no Lokayukta in the Maharashtra unit of the party.
He claimed the party had no time to institute one. “It was only last Sunday that we completed the process of party formation in the state. Within this week, we would have a Lokayukta. As far as Damania’s case goes, I have sent a letter to Arvind about it but he’s busy.
(Kejriwal is fasting in Delhi). Damania does not belong to the national executive but a Lokpal proceeding against her is possible. We will need a Lokayukta only if the Lokpal asks the case to be referred to one,” said Gandhi.
He added, “There’s no complaint against Damania. Only when there’s a complaint can the Lokpal initiate probe. Whenever people on social media make allegations against Damania, we ask them to make a formal complaint so that action may be taken. We request people to do that.”