Interview: Prashant Bhushan calls Kejriwal a petty politician, his theatrics ‘nonsensical’


December 17, 2015

NEW DELHI – From anti-corruption crusader to someone seen as protecting the corrupt, it has been a big fall for Arvind Kejriwal indeed. He is still fighting his battles on almost daily basis but it's no more clear what he is fighting for.

December 17, 2015

NEW DELHI – From anti-corruption crusader to someone seen as protecting the corrupt, it has been a big fall for Arvind Kejriwal indeed. He is still fighting his battles on almost daily basis but it's no more clear what he is fighting for.

His dogged defence of Rajendra Kumar, his principal secretary charged with corruption, proves that the AAP founder has lost the moral compass during his personal transition to politician from social activist. Prashant Bhushan, comrade of Kejriwal in the anti-corruption movement, makes it clear in this interview with Firstpost.

He finds Kejriwal's theatrics on the matter of CBI raid on Kumar's office nonsensical. Also, he finds the effort of the Delhi chief minister to drag Finance Minister Arun Jaitley into controversy by referring to the DDCA issues absurd.

The AAP has been claiming that the CBI raids were conducted after the Delhi government initiated a probe into the Delhi District Cricket Association, with which Jaitley was associated for long. Bhushan says this charge is outlandish. His interview follows.

Q. It was the Congress earlier, now it's the AAP. Both are accusing the BJP of vendetta politics. Do you see the CBI raid on Arvind Kejriwal's principal secretary Rajendra Kumar's office as political witch-hunt or an attempt by the AAP to shield the corrupt?

I don't see any vendetta or witch-hunt. In the National Herald case, it's a private case filed by Subramanian Swamy in the local court which has issued the notices. There is no involvement of the government in the matter because no government machinery has been used. In the case of Kejriwal's principal secretary, the CBI has acted on a complaint made by one Ashish Joshi, who was earlier in the AAP government's (Delhi) dialogue commission, in July apparently. This was investigated and FIR was registered. The complaints consist of several serious charges of giving contracts to firms which he had set up without issuing tender etc. There are serious charges which require investigation. During the investigation if the CBI feels that there is a basis for raid then it can raid the residences or office of the person concerned. Where is the question of political vendetta unless one finds that the charges are bogus and do not contain any merit?

Q. The AAP has pointed out that the allegation against Rajendra Kumar pertains to a period preceding his tenure as principal secretary to Kejriwal, hence the raid on his current office is illogical. What's your view on this?

A raid is not necessarily or normally to unearth any documents relating to one particular illegality or contract etc. It is also to recover sensitive information from his computer or cash or assets. Raids are normally on the person, not his office. Therefore this defence (of the AAP) or the charge why his office was raided and why his previous office was not raided is nonsensical.

Q. There were serious allegations against Kumar. How come Kejriwal appointed such a tainted officer as his most important bureaucrat when the party has been projecting him as an anti-corruption crusader?

We have seen several such instances. (Jitender Singh) Tomar was appointed the Law minister even after the high court had issued notice on his fabricated degrees. Similarly, Asif was appointed a minister though there were charges of corruption against him. He was removed after a sting operation exposed him. There was allegation of corruption against the Rajendra Kumar when he was first made the secretary to Kejriwal in 2013. It seems Kejriwal willfully ignored it. Perhaps it suits him to have such tainted people as they are more likely to be the yes man.

Q. The apex court in May last year struck down the legal provision that made prior sanction mandatory for CBI to conduct probe against senior bureaucrats in corruption cases. Then what is the logic behind the claims made by AAP that they were not kept in the loop before conducting the raid?

It's an absurd claim being made. Kejriwal says that Rajendra Kumar is his most trusted man, then he says that he should have been informed before the raid. That means CBI should inform the person who is being raided. Will it serve the purpose of the raid?

Q.How do you react to the language used by the Delhi chief minister in his tweet against the prime minister of the country? Don't you think our political language has gone from bad to worse?

This was not through his tweet only but also the manner in which he addressed the press conference. What he said (mai us mitti ka bana hoon…) was pure filmy style, sort of Amitabh Bachchan style. This is not the language or style used by any matured politician who is doing matured politics, this is the language of some 'chot bhaiya neta' (petty politician) who is being hysterical on being cornered.

Q. While CBI has denied that the chief minister's office was raided, Kejriwal's media advisor claims that he was stopped from entering the CM's office this morning. Who is to be believed?

That I can't say but given the kind of outlandish charges that are being made – that the CM's office was raided and files of DDCA searched, I would not readily believe the statements of the media advisor either.

Q. Do you believe that the AAP has become a party of the corrupt as one minister after another is being charged with corruption. Arvind kejriwal always tried to shield them first but later on proved wrong. Why several cases of corruption are being reported though the party has been claiming that it is fighting corruption at all levels.

Unfortunately, Arvind has displayed the trait of believing that any lie if spoken hundred times and amplified through a propaganda machinery of Rs 526 crore can be sold to gullible people. This is the belief that Goebbels also had in the power of propaganda. It's a very clear now that Kejriwal and his coterie have betrayed every founding principles of the party. The party does don't function transparently with internal democracy or accountability. Arvind, through his coterie, is running the government on his own whims and fancies. His coterie has betrayed the very founding principle of the party by appointing corrupt ministers, corrupt bureaucrats, and several corrupt candidates. The final nail in the coffin is the jokepal that has been found in the guise of Jan Lokpal Bill. It provides for no transparency, no financial autonomy and investigating machinery etc (for the ombudsman).

Q. The fact remains that in this blame game the legislative work is being gravely hampered. Is there any way of fixing the responsibility?

The responsibility lies with Kejriwal himself who thinks that drama and theatrics can be the substitute of governance.

Q. Kejriwal has claimed that CBI had come to search for DDCA files which mention Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's name. Jaitley was president of DDCA and a probe is on into its affairs. Do you find any merit in these allegations?

It appears to be an absurd allegation.

Courtesy: Firstpost