This Article is From Dec 05, 2014

Nalin Kohli, Please Explain BJP's Funds

(Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January. The former journalist took on former Union minister Kapil Sibal and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in the national election from Chandni Chowk in Delhi.)

There is a saying in jurisprudence: "Those who seek justice should come with clean hands." I would have appreciated it had Nalin Kohli responded with facts and figures to my ndtv.com column that appeared here but as you know a guilty conscience always prefers to hide behind rhetoric rather than resort to substance.

In my column, I raised a few questions about the immoral practices of fund-raising by political parties. I also said that it was these election funds which are a major reason for the rampant corruption in Indian political system. In this context, I argued that AAP's initiative for clean politics and transparent fund-raising dinners/lunches need to be appreciated, but unfortunately, the BJP who spent unaccounted thousands of crores in the recently-held parliamentary elections finds this unpalatable for its digestive system.

There was a time when the BJP used to talk about "Chaal, Charitra and Chehra" (conduct, character and face). But that was a different time. The BJP then was not close to power. It was struggling to make its mark in national politics. It was led by Atal Behari Vajpayee and LK Advani. Its ideological mentor, RSS, was in the role of a "Rajguru" (king's teacher). The Congress was an overwhelming presence and it was impossible to imagine that it could be replaced anytime in the near future. The BJP was in search of friends, and in certain quarters, it was treated like an untouchable. They used to then often talk about morality to attract eyeballs.

But as the saying goes, "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." The smell of power made the BJP leave behind every principle which they ever spoke of. They forgot the Ram Mandir movement. They left Article 370 and kept the unified civil code on the back burner. Power became paramount in their scheme of things.

After forming the NDA government at the Centre in 1998, then Home Minister, LK Advani sermonised to BJP leaders that to expand, the party has to focus 'less on ideology and more on idealism'. It was an amazing turnaround as Advani was their tallest leader and RSS had espoused Hindutva as the beacon of its existence since its inception in 1925. 

In the run-up to the elections in 2014, the world saw a different BJP - a party which had no qualms in aligning openly with allegedly corrupt corporate houses and accepting money and people from any walk of life. During the elections, one of their senior leaders, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said after the induction of a controversial leader that only underworld don Dawood Ibrahim was left to be added to the fold. India has not seen such a naked dance of corporate money ever in its elections. It is speculated in the media that more than Rs 20,000 crore was spent on electioneering. And till now the BJP has not shown its books to reveal the names of all those who contributed to its funds. And if the BJP has nothing to hide, then it should come clean on this issue. It should also be explained that this is not the reason that BJP government is not willing to disclose the names of the account holders in foreign banks. Why is it hiding its funds-givers lists?

Mr Kohli needs to refresh his memory to note that the Election Commission has asked the BJP many a time to explain why it has not disclosed the identity of 75% of its fund donors. Who are these individuals? What is the secret behind not disclosing the source of money? May I ask Mr Kohli the following questions regarding his party's funds -

1. Is it not a fact that on March 29 this year, the Delhi High Court found the BJP guilty of receiving foreign funds in violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act?

2. Is it not a fact that the BJP has accepted donations of Rs 1.18 crore from the owner of Goa-based Timblo Pvt Ltd, Ms Radha Timblo, who was recently named by the central government for allegedly holding an illicit foreign bank account?

3. Is it not a fact that the BJP has accepted donations from Dow Chemicals, the company which has refused to pay compensation to the families of Bhopal gas tragedy victims?
4. Is it not a fact that BJP has received Rs 19,42,50,000 as foreign funds between 2004 and 2012?

AAP is very proud to announce that it is the only party which has invited anybody and everybody to come and see our accounts before leveling any charge. Mr Kohli has very conveniently forgotten that not once but twice, the Home Ministry has on record informed courts that nothing wrong was found in AAP accounts. But can the BJP claim the same?

Over to you, now, Nalin.

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