MONEY, MONEY, MONEY…
Why did Team Anna take so much time in declaring their accounts?
Sadiq Naqvi Delhi
Swami Agnivesh, once an important constituent of Team Anna, has alleged that Arvind Kejriwal has siphoned off a whopping Rs 70-80 lakh from the campaign funds, for his trust PCRF. Insiders say the total sum collected is reportedly Rs 2.5 crore, out of which Rs 1.5 crore has been spent. Agnivesh had told Hardnews earlier that all the funds have been coming to Kejriwal's trust because India Against Corruption (IAC) has no bank account.
After Ramlila Maidan show, Hazare is said to have told Kejriwal and others to come clean about funding and put up the details on the internet by October 15; they are yet to do it. After Agnivesh's allegations, Kejriwal and others have claimed that all funds have been accounted for.
Kejriwal's NGO Kabir, of which Manish Sisodia is also part, received around $569,000 from Ford Foundation under the heads of transparency and governance. This has been disclosed on Kabir's website recently. There are speculations that this money too was used to fund the anti-corruption campaign, though, when Team Anna had declared its funds and assets earlier this year, this money was not shown in the accounts. On October 30, Hazare said Rs 40 lakh received from unknown sources will be returned. Pray, why it took so long? Media pressure?
Kiran Bedi, the other 'energetic' member of the core team, was also exposed for getting inflated reimbursements for air fares despite availing government concessions. She is said to have charged business class air fare from her hosts even when she travelled on subsidised economy class tickets. According to the reports, at least twice, she charged inflated air fare charges from two organisations on the same day, in the same city. Bedi's explanation that she was only saving money for her NGO, India Vision Foundation, didn't cut much ice. After the trustees of the NGO said she need not save money in this manner, she has offered to return the money. One of the trustees, the travel agency head, has quit in protest. Agnivesh has demanded a CBI probe as Bedi's travels are subsidised because she is a gallantry award winner.
Several IAC members were seen protesting at Jantar Mantar, accusing Kejriwal of acting as a tyrant, and raising questions over the funding of the campaign. "All we are saying is that he should come out with details of all the funds that have been received," says Dr Sanjeev Chibber, who claims to be an important part of the campaign. The protestors were demanding an independent audit of the accounts. There are allegations of corporate money funding Kejriwal's campaign. "A lot of black money too came in," claims a source in IAC. An industrialist had earlier donated a big sum.
In a typical populist posture, instead of coming out with bank details, IAC posted a photo of Kejriwal sleeping on a railway platform on its Facebook page. "This is our answer to Agnivesh's allegations that Kejriwal has siphoned off funds in his NGO," said the caption.
Post Script: PCRF has uploaded an audited balance sheet till September 30, 2011, on its website.