Prashant Bhushan accuses former Tehelka journalist Ashish Khetan of planting stories for Essar

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Photo: Vijay Pandey
Photo: Vijay Pandey

Making serious charges against Aam Aadmi Party leaders, rebel leader Prashant Bhushan alleged that Ashish Khetan planted stories for Essar in Tehelka magazine where he used to work.

“Ashish Khetan planted stories for Essar in Tehelka. He wrote stories in favour of 2G accused. Essar paid Tehelka Rs 3 crore for its Thinkfest,” he said.

He also claimed that another party leader Pankaj Gupta took Rs 2 crore from shell companies. Bhushan was referring to Rs 2 crore donations to AAP exposed by rebel group Aam Aadmi Volunteer Action Manch (AVAM).

Following AVAM’s allegations, the Income Tax department had asked AAP to explain donations of over Rs 2 crore to the party. The AVAM had claimed that AAP knowingly accepted funds from bogus firms. The AVAM had alleged that several companies who claim to have given funds to AAP have also given funds to others.

The concerned companies are also likely to be scrutinised. Notices by the I-T department are routine practices and are a matter of procedure.

Bhushan  targeted two members, Pankaj Gupta and Ashish Khetan, saying, “You had complained against me and now want to become judges of your cause.”

“You also know that there have been serious charges against you yourself,” said Mr Bhushan, reminding them that he headed the panel until recently. He alleged that Mr Gupta had accepted ‘donations’ of Rs. 2 crore from shell companies without taking the approval of the Political Affairs Committee.

He said Ashish Khetan, a former journalist, had been accused of “writing a planted story for Tehelka in defence of the Essar Company,” which was charge sheeted by CBI in the 2G case.

Referring to Mr Khetan’s article titled, ‘The Madness in CBI’s method’ in the Tehelka issue of December 31, 2011, Mr Bhushan said recently leaked emails of Essar had proved that Mr Khetan had coordinated with a corporate communications executive of the company. “Moreover Tehelka was paid several crores by Essar at that time for their ‘Thinkfest’ at Goa. Will this therefore not qualify as a ‘paid news’ story?” he questioned, adding that Khetan, instead of being removed, has been rewarded with a role in the disciplinary committee.

In response, AAP’s Ashutosh said Mr Bhushan “is making a laughing stock of himself.”

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