Candidate hurls corruption charge at AAP, party rubbishes it

Chandigarh, Nov 24 (IANS) An AAP candidate in Punjab on Thursday alleged that he was asked to pay Rs 1 crore by two top party leaders, one of whom dismissed the charge as baseless.

In perhaps the worst accusation the Aam Aadmi Party leadership has faced ahead of the assembly polls, Vinod Kumar levelled the allegations against AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak.

A candidate from Bhoa constituency in Pathankot district, Kumar said the two men demanded the money from him after he was allotted the AAP ticket.

“I was called on November 12 at a house in Chandigarh. Sanjay Singh and Pathak told me I was not campaigning properly. They told me to get Rs 1 crore deposited with them so that they could take care of my campaign,” Kumar told the media here.

“I told them AAP was fighting against corruption and our agenda was to campaign and contest the polls without spending money,” he said. “How can anyone who contests elections by spending Rs 1 crore be honest.

“When I questioned them, they told me to take Rs 30 lakh and give up my claim on the ticket for Bhoa seat. I suspect if they were demanding Rs 1 crore from me, they could have been offered Rs 2 crore by someone to get me replaced as the AAP candidate,” Kumar said.

Kumar said Sanjay Singh made him speak to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the issue of giving Rs 1 crore. “Singh and Pathak have spread corruption in AAP Punjab unit.”

The AAP has announced 80 candidates so far for the 117 assembly seats. The assembly election in Punjab is likely to be held early next year.

Sanjay Singh rubbished Kumar’s allegations and said the AAP had decided to cancel his candidature because of his weak campaigning.

“We had made it clear to all our candidates that anyone found wanting in election campaign will have his ticket axed,” he told reporters.

Sanjay Singh said Kumar claimed he had visited 13,040 houses as part of door-to-door campaigning but had actually covered only 1,444. Kumar was also found wanting vis-a-vis wall writing and showing projector shows in Bhoa.

“We cancelled his ticket. Amarjeet Singh will the new candidate from Bhoa,” he said.

The AAP leader said: “Similar allegations have been hurled against me many times. No one brings up any evidence. I will take ‘sanyas’ from life if any corruption allegation is ever proved.”

The AAP has faced allegations of collecting big money in the run-up to the Punjab polls by its leaders from Delhi.

The AAP suspended its Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur in August after a video clip surfaced, purportedly showing him taking money from a party supporter.

Chhotepur has floated Apna Punjab Party (APP) to counter the AAP.