The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) headed by president Sukhbir Badal has found a reason for not providing the details of the expenditures incurred at its Goa convention last year, saying that the onus to provide these lies on the SAD (Badal).
The SAD’s submission came during another hearing before the State Information Commission full bench headed by BC Thakur on Tuesday, as the party submitted that the information was sought by an NGO from the SAD (Badal) and not from the SAD.
While the Akali party plays an escape route in depriving the Human Empowerment League of Punjab (HELP), an NGO, of the information under the RTI Act, a deeper look reveals that both the SAD and the SAD (Badal) exist, with Sukhbir Badal as their president, in the respective records of the Election Commission and the Gurdwara Election Cell of the Delhi government.
The Akali party has been changing the names to suit the situation when it comes to contest the gurdwara elections as a religious party and the parliamentary or the state assembly polls as a secular party.
The party was addressed as the SAD (Badal) in the official communique dated November 19, 2011, from the office of the Delhi’s Lt Governor for the meetings being held for the gurdwara elections in the national capital.
Besides the SAD, its alliance partner, the BJP, has also been silent for the past 10 months over the money spent on the ‘chintan shivir’ in Goa, as asked by the Hoshiarpur-based NGO under the RTI Act.
On the earlier hearings, both the parties have been managing to buy time from the State Information Commission, which kept sending reminder notices to both the SAD as well as the BJP for their replies.
The dilly-dallying tactics adapted by the parties continued as the statutory information panel has so far held four hearings in over six months, adjourning the case to June 4.
The first hearing of the case in the Commission took place in mid-December 2013. The two parties earlier had been avoiding providing the information directly for nearly three months that led HELP move the Commission.
HELP had also sought party-wise share in the expenditure, besides the money spent on transportation, board and lodging, entertainment and leisure activities during the April 4-7 sojourn.
The SAD had taken the initiative to hold the “brainstorming session” on the beaches of Goa, taking along more than 100 delegates, mainly MLAs, MPs and other office-bearers of both the parties.
The NGO had also asked for the list of donors who funded more than Rs. 20,000 each to the SAD and copies of the party’s income-tax returns, besides asking the two ruling allies to provide details of respective expenditure during the Goa trip.