New Delhi: Team Anna members Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi were under fresh fire today over allegations of financial malfeasance and using influence for personal gains.
Former colleagues Swami Agnivesh and Rajinder Singh found fault with Kejriwal over depositing donations collected for Hazare agitation in a trust run by him from which the names of major team members were missing.
Bedi, meanwhile, came under attack from former Chief Justice J S Verma for overcharging organisations by inflating her travel bills. He said claiming money which you have not spent was “unacceptable” and “more upsetting” was the justification that she was spending it for a cause.
Congress leader Digvijay Singh also chose Bedi as a target for attack, saying these were people who were calling politicians criminals. “Politicians may be criminals but look inwards too,” he said, alleging Bedi misused quota system to get her daughter a seat in a medical college in Mizoram.
Dismissing Agnivesh’s allegations, Team Anna said the activist might be levelling such accusations “out of anger” as he was removed from the team following the surfacing of a video clip which purportedly showed him asking a person to deal strongly with Hazare. Agnivesh, who had yesterday alleged that Kejriwal has siphoned off over Rs 80 lakh donated by people for the protest by diverting it to a trust run by him, said Hazare does not have his name in Public Cause Research Foundation run by him.
“Even Justice Santosh Hegde, who has a clean image, does not have his name in the trust. So, the main members of the team were not part of the Trust and the old trust where Kejriwal and his members were part…the money was deposited in their name,” he alleged.
Coming to Kejriwal’s defence, Team Anna member Manish Sisodia said all details regarding their accounts will be put on the PCRF website by this month-end after a special audit.
Bedi alleged that there was a “pattern to defame” Team Anna members and said “hang some of us if that helps”.
Maintaining that they were “transparent” in their functioning, Sisodia said, “Our accounts till March 31 are already on the website. We have conducted a special audit for the last six months and by the month end we are putting the details on the website.”
On Agnivesh, he said, “We have no animosity with Swami Agnivesh. He could have said something out of anger. It’s not in our custom to rebut against anything that an elderly says. He is a good person and we all respect him.”
Agnivesh, on the other hand, said, he was not blaming Kejriwal that he is “deliberately doing so and does not want transparency. I am also not saying there is some fraud and corruption in accounts.”
Verma said that Bedi has no justification in claiming the money which she has not spent. “You cannot claim an amount which you have not spent. You cannot seek reimbursement of money which you have not spent. You cannot justify it,” Verma told PTI.
Terming as “unacceptable” the claiming of money which was not actually spent, Verma said, “I am surprised. Why did she, a good officer, do that? The justification also came as a surprise. “It is more upsetting that the act itself…You commit a wrong and make it worse by a justification which is more interesting,” he said.
Besides Agnivesh, another former Team Anna member ‘Waterman’ Rajinder Singh also raised the issue urging Kejriwal to come clean on the controversy regarding donations to the Anna Hazare movement, saying he could not see transparency in the matter as Team Anna preaches.
Singh, who quit Team Anna recently following differences, alleged that Team Anna could have erred in the matter as they did in plunging into “party politics”. “They preach transparency but in this case, we cannot see any transparency. They should come clean on this. We are not super humans and we all make mistakes. But the moment you realise it, one should correct it and come out clean.”
Reacting to the developments, Bedi said, “There is obviously a pattern to defame every member of Team Anna. It has been systematic from day one.” “Team Anna is paying a personal cost for raising national concerns on rampant corruption and voter awareness to ensure the passing of the bill in Parliament,” she said.
According to Bedi, the Hazare movement was of millions and there was a need for staying united. “After that hang some of us if that helps. If my saving for poor by means I followed is wrong I be punished. Same Lokpal can punish me. Distraction is being manipulated,” she said.
Claiming that Hazare was keen to have a new trust and include new members, Agnivesh said he wanted to complete the audit by October 15 and had asked Kejriwal to put on the website the details of donations received by them in the core committee meeting.
“India Against Corruption campaign is about transparency. When we are fighting against corruption, then transparency is main and important part of it, accountability is second part of it,” he said.
“In the middle there were questions raised on Indian Vision Foundation and on Kiran Bedi’s flight fare controversy and all then it has become more important to check the accounts of old trusts,” he said.