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AAP funds on govt radar

New Delhi, Nov. 11: The Centre today ordered a probe into the source of the Aam Aadmi Party’s funds as Arvind Kejriwal sought to derive political mileage stating the move was prompted by a Congress scared of his party’s growing popularity in the run-up to the Delhi elections.

“Whatever the source of funding is, which country it is coming from, to probe this we have given it to the ministry. We had got complaints about foreign funding and we are investigating,” Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said today, a day after Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit questioned the source of the AAP funds.

AAP leaders appeared buoyed by the probe hoping the move would further boost their prospects. Opinion polls have predicted that the party has emerged a serious challenger to the Congress and the BJP and can win 19-25 seats in the 70-member Assembly.

Kejriwal sought to exploit it to the hilt. He termed the probe a witch-hunt and said it showed how scared the Congress was of his party’s growing popularity. He said the AAP should not be singled out and a probe should also be done about the funding of the Congress and the BJP.

“The Congress is scared of (the) AAP. Let them probe us…. But let them also probe how the Congress got funds worth Rs 2,000 crore. Let them also investigate the BJP’s funding,” Kejriwal, who has hit the roads to campaign for the December 4 polls, said.

Yesterday, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit hit out at Arvind Kejriwal for levelling allegations of corruption on her and questioned alleged foreign funds received by the AAP. The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010, prohibits use of foreign money by candidates contesting elections in India.

A statement from AAP today firmly denied the allegations.

“As far as the question of foreign funding is concerned, all the funds that AAP has got from foreign are from people who hold Indian passport. Receiving funds from Indians, who are holding Indian passports, even if they are abroad, is not illegal under any law of the country,” the statement said.

Delhi High Court is seized with a petition seeking a probe on whether the AAP was receiving foreign funds in violation of domestic laws. The Centre has to submit a report to the court by December 10.

The AAP claims absolute transparency about funds received and has put up the list of donors and the amount, however small, on its website. Today, however, the donation list page could not be opened.

So far the AAP has received Rs 19 crore in donations. According to the party, it has received Rs 13.18 crore from donors in India and the rest from NRIs based in America, Britain, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Southeast Asia, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.