New Delhi: The irony is hard to miss. Almost a year after AAP convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal strongly advocated sting operations to nail the corrupt, his government is on the receiving end. On Tuesday, the Congress made public two video clippings (see below) showing a purported conversation between Hammad, a personal staffer of Delhi’s minister Imran Hussain, and a businessman from Ballimaran, in which Hammad has been demanding Rs 25 lakh on the minister’s behalf to give a nod to the construction of a house.
Delhi Congress chief and AICC spokesperson, Ajay Maken alleged that in one year, half the members of the Delhi cabinet have been found involved in corruption.
But, Kejriwal should not mind the sting operation and his people getting exposed. At his swearing-in at Ramlila Maidan last year, he had openly asked the huge gathering to “record wrong-doing and click photos on their mobile handsets”. The Congress and earlier, the BJP have been following what he preached. Of course, his party is doing it diligently, but with odd consequences.
In a curious spin-off, such operations have become an intriguing tool of political and personal point-scoring, inside his party and out of it. Earlier, the party had conducted stings both on its own members and outsiders. The practice became so rampant that st one point, none of its leaders would speak on the phone — even to reporters — fearing it would be recorded and used against them.
In an attempt to target Yogendra Yadav — the then chief spokesperson of the AAP and its national executive member — who had a falling out with Kejriwal, a section within the party recorded his telephonic conversation with a journalist — without the journalist's knowledge — and that recording was used to build a case against the leader to boot him out of the national executive.
This is only one example of sting operations resulting in the rampant violation of mutual trust, privacy and confidentiality. Initially used as a tool to eliminate ‘rebel voices’ from the party, it has turned into a Frankenstein's monster for the party.
Here’s a look at the stings that stung the party:
November 2013: AAP member from Lucknow Nutan Thakur, had resigned from the party expressing unhappiness over the alleged involvement of party members in a sting operation and said, “I have resigned from the party after I saw the way the party handled the sting operation.”
November 2013: Prior to the Delhi Assembly election, AAP had filed a criminal defamation against a Hindi news portal Media Sarkar over the sting operation that allegedly showed some party leaders agreeing to help push property deals and resolve financial disputes in return for cash donations to the party.
January 2014: Following AAP’s advice, a businessman conducted a sting operation against a police sub-inspector of Vikaspuri police station and later, the Delhi government's anti-corruption branch arrested the cop for allegedly taking a bribe to recommend a revolver licence for the businessman.
August 2014: AAP allegedly conducted stings on AAP Volunteer Action Manch (AVAM, a breakaway faction), allegedly to malign AVAM in public. “Delhi’s health minister Satyendra Jain, the then head of AAP’s disciplinary committee, who had expelled me, planted his aide Rajesh Gupta in AVAM. This man, on the pretext of helping us with monetary contributions, conducted a sting on our volunteers. The tape purportedly showed us taking ‘money’ from the BJP and was made public to demoralise our volunteers and tarnish our image,” alleged Karan Singh. “Later, Rajesh Gupta at the last moment used those ‘fabricated tapes’ to blackmail the party and procure a ticket for himself to contest from the Wazirpur Assembly seat and won,” alleged Singh.
March 2015: Kejriwal’s personal aide allegedly recorded a telephonic conversation with a journalist — without her knowledge — to build a case against Yogendra Yadav and made it public. An unprecedented incident, where a political party revealed its source in the media.
March 2015: First incident where a direct allegation (showing audio tape as an evidence) was levelled against Kejriwal himself by an ex-AAP MLA from Rohini, Rajesh Garg. The purported telephonic conversation between Kejriwal and Garg revealed how the AAP leader was heard talking about splitting the Congress.
Former member of AAP’s national executive and now a BJP leader, Shazia Ilmi said, “AAP has a strong fascination for conducting sting ops and it’s a standard procedure within the party. They secretively record communications of their own leaders and volunteers. The sting they conducted on the AVAM in the initial days is a known fact.”
“We called AAP the 'DTD' (Dirty Tricks Department). They conduct filthy sting operations to blackmail its people. It was done first on us to create a split within volunteers. Gradually, the public has become aware of the real face of the party, which is being cleverly hidden behind an intellectual mask. Now they are the victim of their own dirty tactics,” added AVAM's Singh.
The sting conducted on Hammad, a personal staffer of Delhi’s minister Imran Hussain:
The second sting operation made public by the Congress :