New Delhi: Amid a growing internal rift and a string of electoral losses, the crisis within the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) deepened on Sunday after sacked Delhi minister Kapil Mishra accused chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of accepting a bribe of Rs2 crore in cash at his official residence from Delhi’s health minister Satyendra Jain.
This is the first time that a corruption allegation of accepting illegal money has been made directly against Kejriwal. The allegations gain significance given that Delhi’s incumbent party was born out of an anti-corruption agitation and won a historic mandate in 2015 by promising a clean and transparent government.
“I kept quiet all this while because all of us had complete faith on Arvind Kejriwal. Day before yesterday, I saw Jain giving Rs2 crore in cash to Kejriwal. When I asked him, Kejriwal said few things happen in politics. After having seen Jain hand over such a big amount to him, I had to come out. I have handed over the details to Lt Governor Anil Baijal," Mishra told reporters outside Delhi’s Raj Ghat.
ALSO READ: AAP shows the limits of a single-issue party
His media interaction was preceded by a meeting with Baijal where he claimed to have handed over details of his allegations. Mishra said he was ready to assist all investigations into the issue. He added that it was only human to make a mistake but Kejriwal should disclose the truth and people of Delhi have the right to know about it.
Making another potentially damaging accusation, Mishra claimed that Jain had told him that he had settled land deals worth Rs50 crore for Kejriwal’s relatives.
This is not the first time that a senior leader had either exited the party or was expelled after making allegations against the top leadership including Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and Vinod Kumar Binny—most of whom cited a lack of inner party democracy.
Just two years through its term, AAP seems to be imploding from within as senior leaders including Mishra and Kumar Vishwas have revolted in the last one week. The party momentarily averted a crisis last week as it reached a compromise with Kumar Vishwas by appointing him as party’s Rajasthan convener and suspending Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan who had accused Vishwas of crafting a coup against the party.
ALSO READ: Does AAP’s MCD election performance signal end of Kejriwal brand of politics?
Mishra was sacked as the water minister on late Saturday night on grounds that consumers were receiving “inflated" water bills but he said he was yet to be formally informed of the decision which he alleged was taken “unilaterally" by Kejriwal.
Delhi’s deputy chief minister and senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia said Mishra’s allegations do not merit a response. “He has been sacked due to poor performance," Sisodia told reporters. “The allegations are so absurd and there are no facts," he added.
Both Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress have attacked AAP over allegations made by Mishra and sought Kejriwal’s resignation as chief minister.
“It is now established that public money has been looted in the Delhi Jal Board tanker scam by the Kejriwal government... Arvind Kejriwal not only owes an explanation to the citizens of Delhi but it is high time he submits his resignation for being involved in this water tanker corruption racket," Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari told reporters, adding that the “corruption circus" of the AAP government stood exposed.
“Now, Kapil Mishra alleges that he has himself seen Satyendra Jain giving Rs2 crore cash to Kejriwal! This is a serious charge! Any answers?," Ajay Maken, Delhi Congress chief wrote on Twitter. Speaking to reporters, Maken said that Mishra’s claims should be seen as testimony of an eyewitness which warranted criminal proceedings against Kejriwal, and added: “The Centre, the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the CBI should immediately take action and register an FIR against Kejriwal."
The accusations against Kejriwal comes at a time when AAP did not perform well in the just concluded municipal polls in the capital state as well as a electoral drubbing in state polls of both Punjab and Goa. The party banks on showcasing Delhi as a well-governed state for its future political and electoral expansion.
PTI contributed to the story.