They allegedly demanded money from ticket-seekers
The Aam Aadmi Party on Friday expelled two of its Uttar Pradesh office-bearers, who were caught in an audio sting operation allegedly demanding money from ticket seekers.
Addressing a press conference here, AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal announced the sacking of Awadh zone convener Aruna Singh and Hardoi treasurer Ashok Kumar. The AAP acted on a complaint by Lucknow-based Rajesh Kumar, who wanted to contest the election from Mishrikh (SC).
“We received complaints following which we asked for evidence. The party looked at the evidence and found it to be true,” Mr. Kejriwal said, adding that, however, “no transaction was done.”
Flanked by party leaders Manish Sisodia, Yogendra Yadav and Dilip Pandey, he said, “I am sending out a clear and strong message. Whoever tries to give money for ticket should assume that their money will be wasted. The candidate will not get any ticket. We will verify evidence and whosoever is found involved will be out of the party within 24 hours.”
The AAP leader asked the media and also ticket aspirants to conduct sting operations on their mobile phones if they found anyone demanding money. “The audio should be clear and there should be raw footage.”
Asked about the allegations made against party MLA Rakhi Birla, Mr. Kejriwal said these were found to be “untrue.”
In his complaint, Mr. Kumar claimed that he had paid Rs. 5,400 towards Ms. Aruna Singh’s Delhi-Lucknow air ticket, and later she demanded Rs. 10 lakh for the party ticket.
Mr. Kumar said Ms. Singh had told him on February 10 that the Sitapur, Jaunpur, Machhali Shahar, Mohanlalganj seats had already been sold at prices ranging from Rs. 15 lakh and 25 lakh. “Since my seat was primarily rural, she said she would settle for Rs.10 lakh,” he told The Hindu.
Asked why he agreed to pay for her air ticket as it amounted to bribery, Mr. Kumar explained: “She requested me to visit Delhi and procure a flight ticket for her. I bought the ticket in the hope of getting the amount refunded. However, nothing of that sort happened.” Ms. Singh, however, dismissed the allegations as “baseless.”