AAP MLA Pankaj Pushkar, who has openly criticised the party leadership on several issues, today trained his guns on chief minister Arvind Kejriwal over allocation of Rs 526 crores for publicity and termed it as an exercise of "self-propogation".
Terming the employment of AAP workers in the Delhi government at "hefty" salaries as an "abuse of public money", the Timarpur MLA also questioned the appointment of 21 party legislators as parliamentary secretaries. He said the AAP was in serious danger of losing its way and was on a "slippery mode".
Speaking about the recent advertisement by the Delhi government, Pushkar said, through this the Delhi government not only defied the Supreme Court, which clearly ruled that no government advertisements should try to glorify a politician, but also portrayed women in a regressive way.
Pushkar said he has written to Kejriwal over these issues, but there has been "no response from him for the past one month."
"Under a false technical garb that Kejriwal's pictures were not used, the Aam Aadmi Party tried to defend the obnoxious TV commercial where the name of Delhi CM was mentioned 11 times in just 2 minutes," Pushkar told a news conference.
Incidentally, there was no electricity in the room of the Vidhan Sabha where the conference was held. This led to confusion and delayed the event. The conference continued for a few minutes, but the electricity went off later, again to be resumed in few minutes.
"We found that there was power everywhere in the Vidhan Sabha, but the conference room," Puskhar said.
Lashing out at the Kejriwal government of passing a legislation to give legal protection to 21 AAP MLAs as parliamentary secretaries, he said it had set a bad example.
"The passing of an act for the immunity of 21 parliamentary secretaries in haste too is a case of political impropriety. While similar orders were struck down by various High courts, it was unnecessary.
"The parliamentary secretaries will get a car whenever they are on official work and an office space in secretariat. If such precedent is followed, then the UP government will have 121 such parliamentary secretaries. Also, there is no clarity on the issue as it involves public money," he said.
Pushkar openly sided with Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan during the internal rift in the party early this year. Although the two leaders were expelled from the AAP, no action was taken against him. More
Slamming the government over appointment of party workers in the Delhi government as various heads, Pushkar said, "In some cases the salary given to these party workers are higher than what the IAS officers get. It's shameful on the part of the government to indulge in such abuses of public money. Such arbitary appointments are not healthy to democracy," Pushkar said.
Bibhav Kumar, private secretary to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Aswathi Muralidharan, joint secretary to Chief minister, have been allotted houses. The salary of these staff, who are in the grade pay of Rs 8,700 equivalent to senior IAS officers. Apart from 17 co-terminus staff, eight contractual staffs are hired and get Rs 60,000 to Rs 1.15 lakh. There are two advisors who work on the salary of Rs one per month" he alleged.
Pushkar also took potshots at the chief minister on reports of high electricty bill at his residence.
"During the popular movement, we once targeted the ex-chief minister Sheila Dixit for not being austere in her lifestyle and work culture. It is sad that the Aam Aadmi Party is now facing the flak for similar charges. The party which was expected to end the VIP culture in politics today is seen as yet another political party. There is Manik Sarkar (Tripura chief minister) who stays in austere ways," Pushkar said.
Taking a jibe at the government, Pushkar said the government was more interested in building its image rather than eradicating corruption effectively.
"One of the experiences of my own constituency suggests that our shared committment not to tolerate corruption is subject to various constraints. In case of a written complaint of malpractices in a Fair Price Shop (PDS ration shop), the cancellation of the shop after due enquiry was revoked in a very indefensible manner.
"The report of this tolerance towards corruption and alleged complicity of higher officials was duly reported to the office of CM, Dy CM and concerned department, but it could not yield any result," Pushkar said.
Pushkar also alleged that speaker Ramniwas Goel wanted him to share the points he wanted to raise during the budget session.
"Guided by this mandate, I had tried to raise various issues in Assembly in an unpartisan manner and sometimes beyond party line. I have to register that the speaker advised me not to do so.
"The honourable speaker wanted me to share with him the points that I was wanting to raise during budget discussion. I would rather plead that the independence and dignity of legislative bodies may be compromised if this tendency is allowed to carry on," Pushkar said.