‘We will not withdraw candidates from polls’

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday termed the CD of the sting operation showing some AAP candidates accepting funds allegedly through illegal means “doctored,” and decided to file a criminal defamation suit against the portal Mediasarkar.com and the channels that telecast it.

Addressing journalists after a meeting of the political affairs committee, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said: “The manner in which the entire episode has been handled by those who claim to have done the sting, smacks of political conspiracy. It seems to be part of the political frustration of the Congress and the BJP and a politically motivated campaign against us.”

The party ruled out withdrawing the candidates from the Delhi Assembly elections, who figured in the operation, arguing that “any action against them on the doctored, edited and tampered tapes will be against the natural justice as the web portal has refused to provide us the unedited tapes.”

The portal on Thursday released a CD of the sting operation, the authenticity of which The Hindu can not confirm, showing eight AAP candidates including Shazia Ilmi allegedly willing to take donations in cash without a receipt.

The party also requested the Election Commission to go through contents of the unedited CD, and said “if they find any of the candidates guilty of any wrongdoing, they will be withdrawn from the contest.”

Hit by the allegations, the AAP on Thursday announced that it would take strict action, which includes candidates removal if they were proved guilty. The party also sought raw tapes to investigate the matter but the portal refused to supply the copy to the party and instead submitted it to the Election Commission on Friday.

“After carefully going through the CD several times, we have found lapses at many places which can only be verified by viewing the unedited footage. It seems that relevant portions in the CD were edited out and modified at very critical points in the footage,” Mr. Yadav said.

While highlighting the “loopholes” in the sting CD, Mr. Yadav underlined that “never in the CD any of the featured candidates seems ready or forthcoming to accept money offered. In fact, the CD shows the AAP candidates throughout saying no to the money offered. But suddenly with visible gaps in the footage they are shown saying yes to the offer which is inexplicable.”

“If we take any action without going through the unedited CD, then it would be against the natural justice, so we have decided not to withdraw any candidates,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh said.

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