New Delhi: Buoyed by its massive victory in the Delhi assembly polls, the Aam Aadmi Party has decided to contest all elections to local bodies across the country as part of an ambitious plan to expand its footprint beyond the national capital.
In an interview to PTI, senior AAP leader Gopal Rai said the party has convened a meeting of its national executive on Sunday to deliberate on expanding the party by projecting its "positive nationalism".
Rai, a confidante of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, said the party has set its sight on contesting assembly elections in a number of states including Punjab in the first phase.
"The agenda of Sunday's meeting is to expand our organisation at the national level by including volunteers in large numbers and building party cadre across the country," he said.
Rai, a minister in outgoing Kejriwal government, said people will be able to join AAP's 'nation building campaign' by giving a missed call on the phone number -- 9871010101.
"We will reach out to people through this campaign and make them volunteers in large numbers. The party will contest elections of all local bodies across the country. AAP will fight upcoming local bodies elections in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat," he said.
Rai called BJP's nationalism "negative", asserting that AAP will expand its base by highlighting on "positive nationalism".
"In Delhi, we spread positive nationalism which is based on love and respect. The BJP's nationalism is based on hatred and divisive politics," he said.
"The experiment done by the AAP in Delhi has become a role model for the entire country. Our nationalism is positive nationalism which gives guarantee of good education, health care and livelihood to every section of the society including farmers," he said.
On being asked about BJP's attack on Kejriwal for reciting Hanuman Chalisa on a TV channel in the run up to the assembly elections, Rai said for the Bhartiya Janata Party, religion is a "political weapon", but for the people of the country, religion is a belief.
"The BJP does not respect people of India and it sees every person as its vote bank," he said.
In the Delhi polls, the AAP recorded a massive victory winning 62 of the 70 seats while BJP bagged the remaining eight seats. The Congress drew a blank for the second consecutive time.
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New Delhi: Taking the Opposition head-on, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said while the PM CARES Fund is registered, the PM National Relief Fund, which was set up by the Congress government, was not yet registered.
She wondered why the Congress government never bothered to get the PM National Relief Fund (PMNRF) registered.
The minister, while replying to the debate on Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020, was responding to various issues raised by the Congress and other Opposition parties about the PM CARES Fund.
The Fund was set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide relief in times of emergency.
Observing that the PM National Relief Fund was set up in 1948, Sitharaman wanted to know why the Congress did not ask for its registration.
"Till today you didn't bother to ask it to be registered, I don't understand why. You should have actually asked. .. No, not one voice in that party. It took 23 MPs to write a letter now after 50 years. Like charity, transparency should start from home," she said.
Replying to questions raised by Opposition members over PM CARES Fund, Sitharaman compared its provisions, including registration, objectives, audit, RTI ambit, administration, management, CSR funding and tax deductions available, with that of PMNRF.
She said the big difference between PM CARES and PMNRF lies in the management of the funds. In PM CARES while Prime Minister is the ex-officio member and trustees include Ministers of Home, Defence and Finance, and nominated ex-officio trustees who are eminent persons from the field of science. "Management and decision making goes on record with regularly held meetings and recorded minutes," she said.
Whereas, in PMNRF, the management consists of Prime Minister, and President of the Congress party.
"Only party. And that only party's president will be there and transparency is achieved? How many political parties are there in the country? Thousands of parties we have," she added.
The Congress government, she said, could have given a place to Jan Sangh leader Shyama Prasad Mukherjee or socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia on the board of trustees of the PM National Relief Fund.
Instead, she said, the Congress government thought it fit to give a place to the Congress president alone, as if it was the only political party.
The minister further said that objectives of both the PM CARES Fund and the PM National Relief Fund are the same and both enjoy similar tax benefits.
Sitharaman further said that 100 per cent tax exemptions are available on donations made to both the funds. Also donations by companies under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are allowed for both funds.
Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy wanted to know about the need to set up the second fund when the objectives of both funds are the same.
Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury accused the government of trampling transparency by not disclosing the details of utilization of the PM CARES Fund.