Ahead of high-voltage Delhi assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has tried to come clean on illegal funding allegations. In an exclusive interview with Zee News Editor, Sudhir Chaudhary, the party’s chief ministerial candidate, Arvind Kejriwal, said he would not accept any donation from Mukesh Ambani. He added that he was forced to contest against Narendra Modi from Varanasi against his wishes.
“I will never take money from someone like Mukesh Ambani (Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Ltd), not even a cheque from him.”
He goes on to say if he has taken a bribe, then the government should arrest him. “No one in Delhi has ever accused Kejirwal of siphoning money from any fund. If I have taken a bribe of even Re 1, the government should arrest me. Those who have given illegal donations, government should arrest them (companies),” said Kejriwal in an hour-long interview with Zee News, where he was grilled on issues ranging from his muffler, coughing and U-turns.
Kejriwal said, “If the government doesn’t investigate fake addresses of four companies, I will do it when I become Chief Minister of Delhi.”
Clad in a red sweater and brown shoes, Kejriwal arrived without his trademark muffler. Zee News aired Kejriwal’s interview in the evening prime time show on Wednesday. The channel will again be airing the full interview on Thursday from morning bulletins to prime-hour shows in the evening.
However, Kejriwal made several u-turns on issues, including contesting against Modi in Varanasi. “I never wanted to contest against Narendra Modi but the party prevailed and I headed to the constituency,” he said. He lost to Modi in Varanasi. Kejriwal received over two lakh votes, while Modi fetched six lakh votes.
“I was against the expansion of AAP and even contesting the Lok Sabha elections on all-India basis. But my idea was not heeded by my party members,” he said.
He defended his travelling in the business class. “There is no harm in travelling in the business class (airplane). In future, I will keep travelling in the business class, if opportunity calls for it,” said the former Delhi Chief Minister.
“I was not in favour of taking any government bungalow, but never said that I will not have a government quarter,” he said, adding, “I have asked the government not to provide me with any security, but they refuse to listen and have deputed security personnel after me.”
Confident of winning elections in Delhi, Kejriwal, 46, who is contesting from the New Delhi constituency says he will fight against price rise and corruption. “I am not greedy for the Chief Minister’s post, otherwise I wouldn’t have resigned after 49 days, serving the government. We will fulfill our promises and fight against corruption,” said Kejriwal, even as the interview was interjected by audience members who sought certain clarifications from the former CM.
On being asked why he had stopped targeting the Congress, Kejriwal said he was the first one to raise issue against the alleged illegal land deals of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi. “On the Manmohan Singh government, we raised so many charges,” he added.
On Bharatiya Janata Party’s CM candidate Kiran Bedi, he said he was unhappy with the level of accusations against him in the election campaigns.