New Delhi : Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday announced a probe into the source of the foreign funds received by former Income Tax officer Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that is posing challenge to both the ruling Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party while making its political debut in the Delhi Assembly elections slated on December 4.
“Whatever the source of funding is, which country it is coming from, to probe this we have given it to the ministry. We had got complaints about foreign funding and we are investigating. It takes some time,” Shinde told reporters.
He was only referring to the Delhi High Court last month ordering investigations into AAP’s accounts and its source of funding and file the status report by December 10 on a petition by lawyer M L Sharma.
Accusing the govt of a witch-hunt against his party, Kejriwal shot back, “The Congress is scared of AAP. Let them probe us. Finish a probe in 48 hours. But let them also probe how Congress got funds worth Rs 2,000 crore. Let them also investigate the BJP’s funding.” He alleged that his party was being targeted as opinion polls had predicted it to win the election, with the highest support to him as the chief minister.
The AAP tried to fend off criticism, saying all its donations are detailed on their website and every rupee is accounted for. It claimed to have collected around Rs 19 crore as donations from 63,000 people, ranging from rickshaw pullers to traders, industrialists and overseas Indians.
Even while admitting that one-third of AAP’s funds came from NRIs, AAP says these cannot be called ”foreign funds” as the party does not accept donations from those who do not have Indian passports. NRIs donating to AAP must have Indian passports, says the party. It asserts that the party is well within its rights under law to accept funds from NRIs.
Sources in the Home Ministry said the probe against AAP is to ascertain violation of Section 29B of Representation of People’s Act and Section 3 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act.
Section 29B of the RP Act prohibits receipt of any contribution by political parties from any foreign source while the FCRA specifically prohibits acceptance of any foreign contribution by a candidate, a political party or its office-bearer.
Sub-sections 2(a), (b) and (c) of Section 3 of FCRA are more specific covering citizens of India resident outside the country and say they cannot deliver any money, Inian or foreign, accepted from any foreign source to any political party, nor can they accept any foreign contribution on ehalf of any political party or candidate.