NEW DELHI: The war of words over allegations of dubious funding escalated on Tuesday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing AAP of being "dishonest" while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley charged the party with converting black money into white through hawala means.
AAP Chief Arvind Kejriwal hit back daring the government to arrest him if he has done anything wrong but said "it does not have the guts to do so".
A day after a breakaway group of AAP accused the party of receiving four cheques of Rs 50 lakh each on the midnight of April 15 last year from dubious companies triggering a major controversy, the AAP on Tuesday wrote a letter to the CJI demanding an SC-monitored SIT probe.
It also offered to face derecognition and accept any punishment if the SIT probe found anything incriminating against it.
Scaling up the offensive, Modi waded into the controversy and attacked AAP saying that it has turned out to be a party of dishonest.
"Now when the question of donation came up, they said we never asked for anything. They themselves credited to our bank accounts. People who know the persons with swiss accounts and had them inside their pockets, (now say) they don't even know who put money into their accounts. They say we don't know.
"These people (AAP) went around as honest. But when money is deposited into their bank accounts they claim they don't know. The country may forgive mistakes but it will not forgive the dishonest.
"These people claimed that they were very honest but they have come out as dishonest," he said.
Jaitley added punch saying AAP was caught red-handed in receiving funds through "round-tripping" from companies which did not have any business and said authorities will probe the issue when tax returns are filed.
"It is obvious that this is a round-tripping of black money into the system of a political party. Now, if you are perhaps trapped in an incident of this kind, this is no position that you should start blaming other political parties and try and deflect the agenda," he said.
On AAP seeking a Supreme Court-monitored probe into funding of the three major parties in Delhi polls, Jaitley said, "These are all diversionary tactics. AAP and its leadership has been caught red-handed in this case.
"I'm sure the statutory authorities will do their job as and when their returns are filed and as and when the facts are brought to their notice."
Rejecting AAP's argument that it received the donations through cheques, Jaitley said, "The elementary question is when you give your money by cheque, who is the controlling interest behind that company, the party is supposed to know that."
He further said it was "obvious that these companies have been used as pass-through entities, transacted through hawala means or through companies which convert that money and give entries in white money to others."
Jaitley said AAP has to answer who were behind these companies and what was their source of income. Hitting back at Jaitley, Kejriwal dared the Finance Minister to arrest him if he has done anything wrong.
"The government is in your hands. All the police is in your hands, the IB, ED and I-T department are with you. If you have the courage why don't you arrest me. They don't have the courage...I have done no wrong. Even my worst enemies say that Kejriwal is honest," he said addressing an election meeting.