Ex-Aam Admi Party (AAP) member and an activist for Jan LokPal Movement, Sunil Lal wrote a letter to the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation (RMF) in Philippines, out of utter resentment and disappointment to revoke Magsaysay Award for Mr Kejriwal. In an exclusive Interview with sub-editor Deepannita Das of the NewsGram Team, Sunil opens his heart out on politics, leadership and the corruption surrounding the AAP party and what provoked him to write a six-page letter to the board of trustees of RMF against Mr Kejriwal-
- You were a former member of AAP and an Activist of Jan LokPal Movement. Is there any particular reason that you are not associated anymore with the AAP party?
Sunil Lal:AAP was founded on certain parameters that aimed to change the face of ongoing politics in the state in a positive manner. Back then, Kejriwal was head of Parivartan citizen’s movement in Delhi and was selected for Ramon Magsaysay Award for his dedication and contribution to India’s right-to-information (RTI) movement as well as empowering the common citizens of the nation to counter and fight corruption.
However, he is acting totally against all what he stood for at the time when he was considered for this prestigious Award. That is when I decided to quit the party. I feel it is a grave error of judgment by which a wrong man was selected for the Magsaysay Award.
- In your letter, you have cited news reports, which state that there was fault with Kejriwal. Did you face the obstacles while being associated with the party or the change came afterwards?
Lal: By creating AAP, I feel that Mr Kejriwal has divided the volunteers of Jan LokPal Movement into two. The notion that Arvind Kejriwal ran a transparent and clean government was exposed, when Anil Galgali, an RTI activist filed an RTI seeking details from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry of the Delhi government, regarding the expenses incurred on the government advertisement. Instead of sharing the details, the Delhi government replied that the information was not available as it has not been compiled and asked the information seeker to personally visit their office and check the files for themselves.
- To narrow it down, did the RTI Activists make queries about the AAP Government’s advertising expenses in particular or did it get rejected in a similar and indirect manner?
Lal: On completion of one year, Government of Delhi published Ads in all media platforms- in print as well as in electronic media, to mark their achievements. So, news papers, online portals as well as TV channels were flooded with ads and out of sheer curiosity, Mr Shailendra Pratap Singh filed an RTI asking the funding details of AAP’s extravagant ads in particular.
- Can you just specify the type of questions asked to the AAP Government in Delhi, which they failed to reply to?
Lal: There were five questions in total that was asked by Mr Shailendra Pratap Singh while he filed RTI-
- How many mediums were used to spread AAP government’s work in Delhi? Please provide name of agencies/companies of the categories- Lists of Newspapers, TV channels, Radio/FM channels, Other modes if any
- In how many states did the Delhi govt. gave their achievement ads after the completion of 1 year? Please provide a list.
- What was the total amount spent by Delhi government on these ads
- For how many consecutive days the ads were given to above mentioned mediums?
- Did Delhi government give contract to any agency to carry out these advertisements, please provide the name & details of the agency name?
To the surprise and shock, none was answered by the AAP Government in Delhi. Rather it came up with a very vague reason for not sharing the details.
- There were debates regarding tax department of Kejriwal’s Government. Do you want to share your thoughts regarding this?
Lal: Before joining the AAP party, Kejriwal was a tax officer himself who felt accountable against the existing corruption in the society and pledged to change that and vowed to fight the corruption in the tax department during his period in service.
But soon after, it was seen that his VAT Department was charged with corruption and was caught red handed for accepting bribe. Instead of fixing the problem, he was mum about it, when could set up a commission of experts to handle the issue of corruption in his department.
Talking further, Sunil feels that the (self proclaimed) Champion of anti-corruption, Mr Kejriwal has failed to keep his promise towards his people. The idea of a clean system, fair judgement and corruption free state was just an illusion for people who believed in him.
“Established in 1957, the Ramon Magsaysay Award is Asia’s highest honor and is widely regarded as the region’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. It celebrates the memory and leadership example of the third Philippine president after whom the award is named, and is given every year to individuals or organizations in Asia who manifest the same selfless service and transformative influence that ruled the life of the late and beloved Filipino leader.”
In the letter written to RMF to revoke Magsaysay Award given to Kejriwal in 2006, Sunil says, “I am afraid, one of the recipients of your reputed Award is proving your choice to be wrong as today he is acting totally against all what he stood for at the time he was considered to be qualified for the Award.”
–by Deepannita Das, sub-editor at NewsGram. The author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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