Defending his party’s move to discontinue displaying its list of donors on its website, Delhi Chief Minister and national convener of AAP Arvind Kejriwal Thursday said the decision had been forced on the party as the Modi government had “unleashed terror” against the donors.
Speaking for the first time on the issue, Kejriwal told The Indian Express that the party donors were sent Income Tax notices and were being questioned on why they were donating to AAP.
AAP has been drawing flak for not uploading the list of donors. Social activist Anna Hazare too had written a letter to Kejriwal last week, questioning him what then differentiated AAP from other parties on this issue. AAP stopped displaying the donors list in June 2016. At the time, party leaders attributed it to a technical snag.
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“We started a very healthy practice. But after reading the names of the donors, the I-T department started threatening them. They were asked why they were donating to us? Many donors made it clear to us that they would stop giving us donations if we reflected their names on our website. Our system was such that if anybody deposited even Rs 5 in our bank account, the account was linked to the website in such a way that the donor names were reflected,” he said.
The Delhi CM said even party treasurer Raghav Chadha was issued an I-T notice. “We are declaring our income and paying the income tax.”
Only on Thursday, Dr Munish Raizada, a Chicago-based doctor and suspended member of AAP, launched Chandha Bandh Satyagraha calling for ‘No List No Donation Campaign’ against AAP amidst allegations of kick-backs against party leaders in Punjab.
Speaking for the first time on former state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur’s unceremonious exit from AAP, Kejriwal hailed the action taken by the party. “He was selling tickets. That was a good thing we did. I was getting complaints. This man came to me with a proof. Proof is proof even if it is about Rs 1 lakh or Rs 2 lakh.”
The exit of Chhotepur had become a major controversy for AAP in August last year. The party leaders had even stopped speaking publicly against him but Kejriwal said today the party’s prospects were not hurt by that controversy.
Kejriwal has been camping in Chandigarh for the last three days, meeting traders, delegations, upset leaders and dissidents. Party sources said that till Wednesday, he had met over 2,000 people in two days. He was at work till last midnight when he placated a singer-turned-politician Jassi Jassraj, who had been upset with the party for long.
Kejriwal is planning to base himself in Punjab for at least 25 days in the run-up to elections on February 4. He was in Chandigarh till late Thursday evening and is expected to start a round of “micro-meetings”, small meetings with limited people in the state from January 11 onwards.