The Hindi news
channel NDTV India on April 18 ran a long programme on the way
two of its journalists had been treated by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government
in Delhi, criticising it for trying to undermine the freedom of speech of
journalists in the capital. One of them, who had been covering a press
conference held by Delhi’s minister of transport Gopal Rai, asked the minister
some questions, and when denied the opportunity to ask more, chose to write
against it in a blog post.
Ravish Ranjan Shukla had insisted that the minister answer why despite the promise of better public transport there was no sign of it during the hotly-debated odd-even scheme. But Nagendra Sharma, media advisor to chief minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal blocked his queries. He then wrote in a blog post without naming anyone that media advisors to the government reacted to the questioning of ministers by “shooting the messenger” and then “awarding them with dirty labels”.
Then Arunoday Prakash, media advisor to deputy CM Manish Sisodia and Amardeep Tiwari, the government’s media advisor, removed two journalists of the channel including Ravish Ranjan from a WhatsApp group of the health and the transport department.
The NDTV India anchor discussed the events in detail with the journalist who had written the blog post but, not surprisingly, no other news organisation reported it. Ranjan went on to tweet about the “fascist” nature of the AAP regime which is not used to being questioned. At least two other journalists, one from ABP News, and another from the Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, also tweeted about the incident, and were rewarded with dismissal from the WhatsApp group.
A year ago, when AAP won the Delhi election, and had the halo of righteousness about it, helped in great measure by Kejriwal’s simplistic, virtuous bombast, the censoring of journalists would have been big news.
That it wasn’t so in this case is the result of a strategy and a cosy understanding the party and its leaders have with the capital’s big media. AAP made honesty in public life its calling card and showered contempt on politicians other than its own, but it is now part of the system it wanted to overthrow. Corruption, an institutional desire to profit at the cost of the citizen, the entitlement of its workers, and an intolerance of dissent—AAP has it all. It’s become all the things it scorned on its way to power.
Interviews with a number of party workers, AAP MLAs, officers of the Delhi government, and men of mystery who “get things done” reveal that corruption prevails under the Kejriwal government, that the party benefits and encourages it, and that syndicates of “transfer-posting” and appointments flourish under the same government that promised to change the way governance worked in the country.
Interviews with a
number of party workers, AAP MLAs, officers of the Delhi government, and men of
mystery who “get things done” reveal that corruption prevails under the
Kejriwal government, that the party benefits and encourages it, and that
syndicates of “transfer-posting” and appointments flourish under the same
government that promised to change the way governance worked in the country.
Multiple attempts to contact AAP spokespersons, Nagendra Sharma, media advisor to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, and leaders like Ashutosh and Ashish Khetan failed. They didn’t respond to calls on their mobile phones. An email questionnaire sent to Khetan went unanswered.
Most of the people spoken to opened up on condition of anonymity; some work for the Delhi government and are rule-bound not to speak, while those in the party fear for their future in it if names are revealed. They chose to speak because many joined the AAP for the ideals it professed, and now feel let down by its practices.
This is in stark contrast to the image of the honest common man that the party has built for itself, even while giving its MLAs hefty pay raises and going back on its opposition to the “lal batti” culture, the VIP culture of entitlement. The Delhi government also had frequent run-ins with the media in its initial days when it blocked the entry of journalists into the secretariat last year, leading to a boycott of its press conferences by the media. But that is also the reason why it has extended off-the-book benefits to many journalists, with reports in the Hindi media also suggesting at times that some of the journalists were on the party payroll. Those who have opposed it, however, have been on the receiving end with even Kejriwal tweeting at times on the need for “objective journalism” from them.
This has also helped the party sweep under the rug much of the criticism against it, apart from using a well-planned strategy to attack the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi when any allegation is levelled against it, say party workers and officer holders. This has helped it consolidate its hold over Delhi’s vast riches that flow in through various avenues, going back on its promise of a corruption-free government. While corruption cases in various departments are on the rise, the brief is to keep it away from the eyes of the common man, in other words, the media.
The roots of the Aam
Aadmi Party lie in the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement that sprang into
the limelight under social activist Anna Hazare in 2011. Kejriwal, an officer
of the India Revenue Service, had taken leave from the department in 2000 to
start a social welfare organisation, Parivartan. It worked for the urban poor
and for their rights, did good work and was often consulted as well as written
about by the media. Manish Sisodia, a former journalist, has been his confidant
since the days of Parivartan.
In his book The Crown Prince, The Gladiator and The Hope: Battle for Change, former journalist and senior AAP leader Ashutosh mentions Kejriwal’s vulnerability to the media and how he grew close to Kejriwal over time, often advising him on how to handle the media and their tricky questions. Having come to power with an overwhelming victory last year, winning 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi, the first task the government set itself was handling the media.
The Delhi Dialogue Commission, was set up under another former journalist, Ashish Khetan. Its mandate was to be a bridge between the common man and government, with Kejriwal as chairperson and Khetan as vice-chair. Other members include Sisodia, the finance secretary, the chief secretary, secretary to the CM, a member secretary and two people nominated by the CM.
Its aim is to find solutions to a range of civic issues, including women’s safety, sanitation, water management, etc. Ideas like the odd-even scheme for vehicles on road have come out of the commission.
Khetan brought in a deeper understanding of the media, most importantly its dependence on the revenue generation capacity of a reporter or a news item created by her. Many senior journalists were invited to the dialogue commission, which is presently being remodelled, to understand the demands of the editorial teams at media houses. (Disclosure: Khetan was a colleague in Tehelka, and later I worked for a few months at Gulail, the investigative news portal he started in 2013.)
An editor who works with a Hindi daily, and met Khetan in August last year, says, “The point made was that the party wanted to work closely with journalists and create a so-called ‘open debate’ atmosphere but the questions being asked were suddenly from the government’s side and not ours. They wanted to know how they could help us, as if we do not know our job. They wanted to tell us what we need to do rather than focusing on what they need to do.”
The first step was to facilitate news gathering, and departments were advised to hold frequent press conferences to make sure the media took the government and the party seriously. The more news you make, the more favourable the media becomes towards you over time was the logic, journalists who attended DDC meetings told me.
Apart from providing a steady supply of news, the government decided to award honorary positions to journalists at educational institutions over which it has oversight. This was done under deputy chief minister Sisodia, who also heads the education ministry. The first step was to dissolve the governing bodies of the 28 colleges funded by the government affiliated to the Delhi University. It went through with the plan despite opposition from the university and hundreds of non-permanent teachers.
Since 1993, all governments, Congress or BJP, as well as the Delhi University have nominated senior journalists to the governing bodies of these colleges, which are reconstituted every two years. Five members each are nominated by the Delhi University and Delhi government to these posts. AAP nominated 25 journalists and some former journalists listed as “Educationists” to these bodies, making for more than 20 per cent of all nominations. Most are working journalists, many of whom report and write about AAP. At least four senior journalists in the Bennett Coleman group (which publishes The Times of India, The Economic Times and Navbharat Times) had accepted the appointment but had to resign as such office goes against group policy.
A senior official of the department of higher education, speaking on condition of anonymity, says, “All were informed beforehand and duly consulted before their names were put on the list. They could have refused if they wished. Some journalists did refuse and they were not nominated.”
A journalist from a Hindi news channel who is on the governing body of one the colleges, says, “Obviously when I help the organisation get both news and ads they would not care about anything else. And this is not even a paid post.”
Harjeet Singh, a party worker who played a big role in rallying the trader community towards AAP before the elections, is a businessman who doesn’t have a background in the education industry. However, he is listed as a social worker along with many other workers of the party, while some others are listed simply as “Professional”.
Kapil Bhardwaj, a senior party worker in charge of preparations for the Punjab assembly elections next year with another party worker Sanjay Singh, has also been listed as “Professional (MBA)”. Many other workers who are not even from Delhi, have been nominated, some listed just as “Researcher”. Bhardwaj could not be contacted despite multiple attempts. One of his two mobile phone numbers was switched off and didn’t take any calls on the other one.
The posts are honorary in nature, members don’t get salaries. But they play a pivotal role in the hiring of ad hoc faculty, librarians, and Class III and IV posts. These appointments are also the ones for which huge bribes are paid since they are mostly secure government jobs and the decision of the governing body is binding. The non-permanent teachers, on the other hand, have been alleging favouritism in appointment of candidates since last year.
A senior member of Delhi University’s executive council, who does not want to be named, said, “More than 2000 non-permanent teachers were to be regularised last year when the AAP government announced that new governing bodies were to be made. Almost half are not even in the fray anymore because their contracts were not renewed even though many of them had been working for 3-4 years and deserved to be inducted permanently. Instead new teachers were hired.”
There are more than 5,000 non-permanent teachers working in Delhi University’s various colleges, including the ones under the Delhi government, and their contracts have to be renewed every four months. Interviews for these appointments are conducted every four months, leaving the door open for money to change hands since competition becomes stiffer by the year as candidates proliferate.
“This has become a routine now and everyone knows that if you can pay some money you could be hired for 3-4 terms in which time you try for a better job elsewhere or hope that you will be regularised and not be working on ad hoc basis anymore. This happens under every government,” says a teacher who is also a member of AAP, when asked how he has kept his job safe since last year and whether this system of corruption was not against the party’s declared ethics.
More importantly, teachers say that when governing bodies comprise members whose selection depends on whether AAP wants them there or not, merit as a criterion falls by the wayside. Anil Solanki, who teaches Hindi at one of the colleges, says, “When the body that holds the interviews is itself intellectually defunct one can imagine how appointments are made. You need a recommendation or to have deposited some chanda (donation) to the party (AAP).”
Managing negative news
has been a major thrust area of the AAP. It deploys an army of cyber warriors to
scrub the internet of any dirt that sticks to the party; negative news is
drowned out by positive news.
The main job of the team is search engine optimisation (SEO), which also involves in many cases paying huge amounts of money to companies that handle their “image” on search engines like Google, according to party workers and at least one digital media agency working for it. The aim is to make sure that the readers’ hits on negative news articles are fewer, and that such news is not on the top list of items on Google and platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Akshat Saini, senior executive at a firm on the list of AAP’s digital marketing consultants, says, “All you have to do is to make sure hits on pages that you want on top of the list are much higher so that the Google algorithm automatically pushes it up the ranks. This is done in many ways, easiest of them being that you viral the links of your websites or the ones you wish to push up the ranks so much that algorithmically they automatically are more relevant for Google or other media platforms.”
Saini says his company has been paid crores by AAP (he refused to quote a figure) and that it is a common practice among political parties now. “Every party wants positive news about itself rather than negative news. They hire full-fledged teams just like AAP has, with qualified engineers and experts.” In the case of AAP its volunteer base is the backbone of this team. They either work of their own accord or with a team of at least 10 people out of the office of the Delhi Dialogue Commission under Khetan.
In many cases, however, AAP also acts according to the mood of the audiences on the web and manufactures or makes news that it then pushes against negative publicity.
An example of this was during the allegations against transport minister Gopal Rai. The department was caught renewing licences of autorickshaws for people it favoured .While there were close to 17,000 vehicles on the road only 10,000 were to be allowed back as per the government’s decision. The department had been provided with a list of dealers to be favoured. But the scam was exposed and there were large-scale protests on the city’s roads.
In order to control the surge in negative publicity, Rai immediately suspended three officials based on recommendations from party workers. A senior official of the department says, “They were actually against the directions and had decided to work in a fair manner. They just became scapegoats in a political battle.”
After the news of the suspension was made public, the party’s cyber unit made sure that news of the suspension of officials, something that bolsters their anti-corruption image, found more traction. Within hours news about the suspensions was on top of the Google news. Even now, if one tries to read about the scam she will have to scroll to fifth or sixth search-result page for it.
“For example, you still get news of the BJP protests against the AAP in the corruption cases or demanding resignation of ministers among the top ranked links since they too have firms that handle their digital marketing, just like AAP does. But a workers’ protest or autorickshaw unions’ protest in the news reports will not find place in the higher ranks. That is how they influence the news that majority of online readers get,” Saini says.
A similar strategy has been used by the party when its leaders have been attacked by the Congress or the BJP. After the sting that showed the principal secretary to Kejriwal demanding a bribe on camera the BJP attacked the party and Kejriwal. AAP instructed its party workers to rake up “five issues for every one against” them. As part of this strategy, Kejriwal and other party leaders attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi and raise issues from other parts of the country with which BJP is grappling every time they feel they are copping negative publicity.
An AAP leader who unsuccessfully fought against one of BJP’s young leaders in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, says, “We have countered BJP’s internet strategy. While their followers and members attack negative publicity by swarming cyberspace with counter comments and trolls, we simply give the reader more negative news to read than the one against us. As for paying for removing or promoting content online, every party has learnt to do it now. It is no more a taboo practice.”
This cushioning from
negative news and its ability to fight off corruption charges has emboldened
A survey by Swaraj Abhiyan, formed by Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, former AAP founding members, in February this year saw almost 80 per cent of respondents saying corruption had not gone down under the AAP government. Bhushan and Yadav were expelled for anti-party activities and statements last year after AAP came to power. They claim they were targeted because they openly spoke against corruption in the party as well as its failure to curb it on the ground, the plank on which it won the election.
In one instance, Rs 2 crore was deposited into AAP’s account through four different companies which paid Rs 50 lakh each. The disclosure of these transfers was made by a breakaway faction of the party, AAP Volunteer Action Manch in February last year. The four companies, whose addresses were later found to be fake, existed only on paper and had not made any profit in the recent past as per the details of their accounts, the rebels claimed.
AAP denied the charges since the payments had been made via cheque and challenged finance minister Arun Jaitley to launch a probe. The name of a well-known alleged hawala agent, Hem Prakash Sharma, emerged in the case. Sharma is reportedly on the board of directors of at least 20 companies most of which have turned out to be fake, used allegedly as fronts by other companies. The case is with the Income Tax department and not much action has been taken in the matter.
A senior income tax department official, part of the team investigating the case, said: “My understanding is that the possible perpetrator here, the one who used the front companies to donate money (to AAP) also happens to be a donor for the BJP and that is the reason we have been asked not to go ahead with further investigations.”
The official refused to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media, and the case has political ramifications.
Another instance is the case of Rosmerta Technologies Limited, the company which supplies High Security Registration Plates (HSRP) for vehicles in Delhi. The company, based in Gurgaon, manufactures and supplies credit cards for many banks, driving licences for many states, property registration cards apart from supplying HSRPs to states like Delhi and Maharashtra.
While other states have taken steps against the company, in Delhi it has been given a free hand. The government awarded the contract for HSRPs to Rosmerta HSRP Ventures Private Limited, which was a special purpose vehicle (SPV) of the parent company Rosmerta Technologies Limited and Utsav Safety Systems Private Limited, which was also the Type Approval Certificate (TAC) holder and so the parent company in the SPV. While the latter was the technical partner in the SPV, the former was only a financial partner.
Soon after the contract had been awarded the government, then under the Congress, started receiving complaints that the number plates being provided were either faulty or fake. In many cases the plates were found too fragile and not up to standard. To look into the matter, the Congress government set up a three-member committee which submitted its report in 2014. It said Rosmerta Technologies Limited had set up various fake offices in the capital from where it was selling substandard plates to consumers at exorbitant prices compared to those set by the government.
Its partner Utsav Safety Systems Private Limited (USSPL) filed complaints against it for providing substandard HSRPs through the SPV. The committee found that while technical approval had been given to the factory owned by USSPL in Bilaspur, Himachal Pradesh which manufactured the HSRPs, the plates were not being supplied from the same place. To cater to the growing demand, Rosmerta started supplying plates from its plant in Assam which did not initially have permission from the government. The committee found the HSRPs substandard and being from an uncertified source posed a security risk since fake plates could easily be bought in the city. Transport department had issued notices to the company after the committee’s report came out but it failed to act on it.
While the then government had ordered that the contract of the company be cancelled, the AAP government after coming to power in January 2015 constituted a new committee to look into the matter. By then even the Supreme Court had pointed out in its judgment on a contempt petition that the company was supplying plates from the uncertified plant despite its directions.
Moreover, the plates being sold at exorbitant prices were causing the exchequer and the public huge losses. For example, the committee found in its report that instead of the stipulated one-month period after which the plates were to be issued, it was offering them in a matter of hours. As per government stipulations the plate for a two-wheeler costs Rs 69 whereas they were being sold for close to Rs 500 in the open market. Similarly, private and commercial four-wheel plates cost Rs 1200 and Rs 1500 in the open market whereas the government rates are Rs 214 and Rs 220 respectively. Considering that a minimum of 5,000 private four-wheeler vehicles are sold in Delhi every day, the company was making a profit of close to Rs 50 lakh per day. This margin is much higher for commercial vehicles.
The committee set up by AAP also recommended that the contract with the company be cancelled. A few months before this the Madhya Pradesh government had cancelled the contract of its supplier for similar reasons, while Sikkim rejected the Rosmerta bid a few months later on the recommendations of the Delhi committee.
The company, however, approached the AAP government and got a favourable response immediately. The transport department accepted Rosmerta’s demand for arbitration and appointed Justice (retired) A Alam as arbitrator.
Senior officials in the transport department claim the “deal” was in return for handsome donations. “Some officials opposed the move and insisted that the contract be terminated but they were told the government was mulling suspending a whole set of them for corruption earlier but had chosen not to. They were asked to their faces whether they would prefer to leave things as they were or face suspension and action,” an official in the department says.
This attitude stems from Kejriwal’s own understanding of the system as an insider. On April 20 addressing civil servants in Delhi he warned them against “netagiri” and said they should support the government, which officials say was another indirect threat.
AAP workers, however, have been enriched by the company on a regular basis through its several HSRP centres across the capital. An AAP MLA who raised his voice against Rosmerta on some platforms within the party, says he was approached by people from the company offering money for public works in his area. The company representatives, the MLA said, told him Rosemerta was quietly supporting AAP and its honest workers and leaders through such donations. “The money is already being paid to higher-ups through the workers on the ground, who report only to them and keep floating across constituencies handling their money as per instructions. Anyone seen going out of line is approached and things are quietly kept running the way they want. That is the reason DDC now stands for Delhi Dalaal Commission.”
The other important
source of off-the-books cash has been the “transfer-posting” industry.
Officials are either transferred to a particular post because of their ability
to generate cash through various means, or because the officer coughs up enough
money for party funds for a transfer to a particular department or for a
All this money is paid in cash or to a trusted “agent” of the party. Raju (name changed) is a property dealer in Badarpur close to one such agent-cum-worker of AAP and so makes quick money by getting people the posts they desire. The system works in a phased manner. Once an officer approaches him, his query is discussed with the boss, a party worker who is almost a floating presence in the party circles. “Voh aise log hain ki kahin bhi takra jaenge aapko. Kabhi aapki gali mein hi ghoomte mil jaenge aur kabhi maheeno tak dikhai nahi denge (You could run into these people anywhere. Sometimes you could meet them in your own street whereas sometimes they would not even be in Delhi for months).” There are dedicated groups of such men who deal with the money.
Once the query is recorded as legitimate, the officer is asked an approximate amount he can pay in cash and kind. In rare cases, officers want a transfer for personal reasons and are either directly referred through a call of approval to the official authority to send the papers further or given considerable concessions depending on the reasons for demanding a transfer.
“If we get too lenient everybody will come up with some excuse. I discourage such people from approaching me in the first place.” Raju asks them to directly approach their senior officers.
A mid-level officer in one of the many departments of the Delhi government recently approached Raju through a friend in his office who earlier used Raju’s services.
“He (the friend) says he paid close to Rs 20 lakh to get a promotion towards the end of last year,” the officer says. But he has a different request—he needs a transfer to a different district within Delhi since his current superior has taken a dislike to him because of his no-nonsense approach to work. “He interferes quite often and dictates terms. I will not be able to rise through my work as long as he is there since he expects us all to make money for him,” the officer told Fountain Ink. The officer was ready to pay up to Rs 15 lakh but Raju has made him wait for almost three months now. “There cannot be too frequent transfers. The timing has to be right. Sometimes it is good to show it as a punishment transfer even when it is not,” Raju says.
On the day Raju is to meet the officer he calls him to the Badarpur metro station where two of Raju’s men stand guard at a distance, keeping an eye on possible busts. “Kejriwal ji ne chilla chilla ke recording sikha di hai poori dilli ko (Kejriwal has taught whole of Delhi to record videos),” he says referring to calls by the CM to record bribes being paid to agents or government officials to expose them.
Normally dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, Raju sticks to blue jeans and shirt to not stand out in the crowd this time. The officer reaches the station and gives him a call. During the meeting, Raju tells him that he will have to pay Rs 12 lakh for the transfer to be done within three months. The officer agrees, but asks for an assurance that orders will come within three months. Raju says: “BJP ya Congress ki sarkaar nahi hai ki paisa leke guarantee se kaam kar de. Bol diya ho jaega toh ab bas umeed rakhiye. Koshish yahi rahegi nirash na hi ho aap (It is not the Congress or the BJP government where you would be assured that your work will be done once you pay up. Keep the hopes up. I’ll try my best not to disappoint).”
The officer insists that the amount is big and that he has never paid such a huge sum as a bribe ever. “I am an honest guy who makes money just because everyone else does, too. I just get my share. You would have done enough research yourself to know this about me I suppose,” he tells Raju.
“No government has won with such a margin in Delhi either. There is no opposition at all. This is how this government is going to work. I myself don’t know if my share from this will reach me, how do I assure you saab?” Raju says.
On the day the money is to be delivered, Raju again calls the officer to the metro station, but this time it is his aide Ashok (name changed) who makes first contact. Ashok takes the officer to a small restaurant—the owner is a friend of his—on the Badarpur-Mehrauli road, and checks the bag in which the amount is kept—24 bundles of Rs 50,000 each, with each bundle consisting of 100 notes of Rs 500 denomination. Every bundle, Singh had been told, was to have a different sequence of numbers. Ashok checks and is satisfied.
Sitting in his car, parked across the road from where the restaurant is, Raju says, “Voh log toh har gaddi khol ke alag alag set se note milate hain (The ones who collect the money mix notes from all bundles from different sets randomly).” This is to make sure the money leaves no trail. Fresh bundles are prepared after such random mixing and they are all then sent to the so-called company owners who do the work of depositing this money. But this money is not necessarily going into an account; it might be carried to the ground-level party workers as per instructions from above.
When Raju gets the money, he makes sure he delivers it to his “agent” at the earliest. “People tend to get too conscious and nervous when they have finally paid the money. Ekdum se unki imandaari bhi jag jaati hai kabhi kabhi (The honest person in them too can wake up at times). So it is good to get rid of this quickly.”
He makes the cash delivery at the Statesman building in Connaught Place, the centre of Lutyens’ Delhi, right across the road from the busy Barakhamba Road metro station. The money is packed like a parcel and the spot is chosen randomly, though he says the present one is much preferred since it is right in the centre of the city where nobody would think of black deals being made. His “agent” disappears into a green DTC bus immediately after collecting the package. Raju and his agent do not switch on their phones for 24 hours after that to avoid being detected or tracked.
Since last year,
almost all the cash collected by the AAP has been making its way to the cadres
rather than the accounts of the party. Funds raised through donations online
are accounted for. The reason for amassing cash is to shore up the war chest
for the Punjab assembly polls due next year. According to party members Punjab
will be the second state with an AAP government.
It was the only state where the party registered substantial voter enthusiasm and victories in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. All four of its MPs are from the state. Two have since been suspended from the party for “anti-party” activities. In Delhi, too, to keep a check on the activities of MLAs the party considers too outspoken the cadres keep an eye. Anyone seen as speaking against Kejriwal or the party is quickly put on the watch list.
An AAP MLA who claims to be on the list says, “It is almost like a parallel setup being run by the party cadre in my own constituency. Such is the insecurity of the man (Kejriwal) that he cannot even tolerate a voice questioning him or his close aides in the party. I have spoken out quite often in meetings about some of the party’s policies and so have been targeted. People in my own constituency are confused about my role.”
The MLA refused to be named because he has been trying to get into the good books of Kejriwal. As he sees it, this is the only way to a future in AAP.
In October last year the party directed its MLAs in Delhi to contribute Rs 1 lakh each per month to fund its Punjab campaign. The news soon came out in the media and there were questions over how the MLAs would arrange the money through donations every month. The party declared then that the plan had been shelved. Barely six months later, however, it has quietly passed on instructions to MLAs to deposit Rs 1.5 lakh every month towards the Punjab elections, according to several party workers and MLAs interviewed for this story.
An MLA opposed to the move says, “Even if I want to remain honest I have no option but to get into the muck and arrange this money somehow every month. How many Punjabi-speaking people or businessmen can one find in the constituency on a monthly basis to keep on donating money?”