AAP and its pungent sanctimoniousness
How does AAP govern? By dismissing ministers for alleged sex tapes and firing employees who watch movies at work. It’s a good governance model
Shibu Kumar Tripathi Delhi
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led state government is in tatters yet again as two of its legislators face the worst period of their life. While Sandeep Kumar lost his cabinet rank, Pawan Sharma has been sent in for 18-month rigorous imprisonment. Sandeep was stripped of his cabinet rank after AAP received an unverified ‘objectionable’ CD which showed the Women and Child Development Minister in compromising position. Taking a no tolerance stance Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sacked his minister within 30 minutes of receiving the video.
Meanwhile, Aadarsh Nagar MLA Pawan Sharma was sentenced to an 18-month imprisonment by Rohini Court on charges of ‘causing death by negligence’ of a factory worker in 2009. Sharma was awarded a second jail term of six months on charges of ‘negligent conduct with the machinery’ which will run concurrently with the first term. The two names add to the already long list of AAP MLAs who have been facing the legal ire in different cases, scandals, sting, and allegations. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal through a video statement said that "Sandeep Kumar has betrayed the entire movement. AAP is the sole hope of the entire country, and he had betrayed their hope.” He went on to say that, “if any evidence of wrongdoing was brought against any AAP leader or minister, the party immediately acted on it. This does not happen in other political parties."
Over time, AAP has rebutted almost all allegations, with Kejriwal going to the extent of alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP supremo Amit Shah were conspiring to murder him. In a video message addressed to his party workers and state cadre, Kejriwal had asked his ministers, MLAs, and other office bearers to gear up to make the supreme sacrifice.
The list of arrested MLAs targeted, according to AAP has been continuously increasing. With over 12 arrests so far the government has faced proceedings from Delhi Police, Enforcement Directorate, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Income Tax Department, CBI and now what is being called as a whistleblower by many, who left the objectionable CD in the CMO.
The App has had a history of arrests since it came to power, the most recent arrest was of its legislator from Narela, Sharad Chauhan, who was booked by the Delhi Police for allegedly harassing a female party worker, who subsequently committed suicide on July 18. The MLA was questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) for four days and then arrested. Senior AAP leadership said that it had all been a setup from the BJP. Accusing PM Modi of being unable to cope with the good work being done by the state government, they said that the regular arrests are the result of his sheer frustration.
Two other legislators were arrested in the final weeks of July, while an Income Tax raid was conducted on another. Amanatullah Khan and Naresh Yadav were arrested by Delhi Police on July 24. Khan, MLA from Okhla, was arrested following a complaint from a woman who alleged that Khan threatened her with rape and murder when she approached him to complain about frequent power cuts in his constituency. Khan was released on bail on July 28. Meanwhile, Mehrauli MLA Naresh Yadav was arrested on charges of desecrating the holy Quran in Malerkotla, Punjab. He is charged under IPC sections 109, 153A and 295.
An IT raid was conducted on Chhatarpur MLA Kartar Singh Tanwar’s residence; with the deployment of over 150 Delhi Police personnel, it was a first of its kind IT raid in the city. The raid continued for two days behind closed doors as party workers waited in anticipation.
The AAP faced the first arrest in its second stint on June 9, 2015, when its then law minister Jitendra Singh Tomar was accused of cheating, forgery, forgery with the purpose of cheating and criminal conspiracy, for producing a fake law degree. He was charged and later released on bail after spending over a month in Tihar Jail. The second arrest transpired on July 8, 2015, when Manoj Kumar, MLA from Kondli constituency was nabbed on allegations of land grabbing and cheating. Kumar has now also been accused of domestic abuse by his wife. Surinder Singh, MLA from Delhi Cantonment, was arrested for assaulting an employee of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation. Singh too was later granted bail.
Akhilesh Tripathi, MLA from Model Town was arrested on November 25, 2015, on charges of rioting, rioting armed with a deadly weapon, unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and for obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions. The court had to issue a warrant against Tripathi after he failed to appear before it. A non-bailable warrant had already been issued against him on October 9.
The final month of 2015 saw one of the biggest storms faced by AAP when its law minister Somnath Bharti, after playing hide-and-seek with the police, finally surrendered in a case of domestic violence filed by his wife Lipika Bharti. Lipika filed a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women against her MLA husband on June 10, alleging that she had been facing harassment ever since their marriage in 2010. Bharti is the only member of the Delhi cabinet who could not get support from his party’s top brass. Kejriwal termed his law minister as an “embarrassment” as other party leaders requested him to surrender after the Supreme Court issued directives in the case. Bharti was later granted conditional bail.
Having survived a shaky 2015, the AAP was looking forward to a peaceful 2016 when its Vikashpuri MLA, Mahendra Yadav, was arrested in a case of rioting, damaging public property and stopping public servants from performing duties. Yadav was protesting against the rape of a 3-year-old girl on Nihal Vihar-Najafgarh road when he was picked up on January 26 for obstructing the traffic in the area. He too was granted bail by the Delhi court. Jagdeep Singh, another MLA from Hari Nagar constituency, received bail from the court after being detained on May 29 for allegedly assaulting the manager of a waste management company.
In a bizarre move by Delhi Police, Sangam Vihar MLA Dinesh Mohania was picked up in midst of a press conference on charges of assaulting a woman. Delhi police said that Mohania had been evading their regular attempts to make contact and that the complaint was serious in nature. AAP verbally bulldozed the centre’s tactics by equating them to those witnessed during the Emergency. Chief Minister Kejriwal retorted that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s way of commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Emergency (is) by clamping an unsaid version of it in the Capital”. He later tweeted, “Modi declares emergency in Delhi, arresting, raiding, terrorising, filing false cases against all those whom Delhi elected.” Mohania was later granted bail in the case. PrakashJarwal, MLA from Deoli was arrested on July 8 for allegedly misbehaving and assaulting a woman. Jarwal was charged in 2014 as well for beating up an official of the Delhi Jal Board. He too was granted anticipatory bail by the court.
Political tension in the state has never been higher as both state and centre are at loggerheads. While the AAP has been accusing the center of disrupting the state mechanism, the center has been saying that the AAP is feeling vulnerable due to these arrests and therefore targeting the BJP. The AAP’s top hierarchy has continuously been calling it a conspiracy by the Modi government to derail the state machinery. VikasTyagi, Media Coordinator of the AAP said, “Modi Ji is left with just one job these days and that is to obstruct in the functioning of the Delhi government. He has lost his mental balance and the frustration shows in the arrests of AAP MLAs.”
BJP state vice president Tilak Raj Kataria said that the AAP has been exposed and Modi is an easy target, the allegations against the PM are just to divert focus from the works that the AAP has failed to perform. According to him, “people are now feeling cheated by the AAP and are losing faith in their governance.”
Arrests and bails are part of a political game; the game is played in every state of the country. The only difference is that it has gone on for too long in the national capital. Now that the AAP is 12 men down including some with cabinet portfolios, it surely is preparing itself for a second innings with an attacking field and explosive hits. It will be interesting to see whether AAP continues its blame-game tactics or becomes more dedicated towards carrying out its duties, and a makeover of its damaging image leaving its fate in the hands of Delhiites.
Pic: YouTube grab