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AAP Claims Swati Maliwal to be “Face” of BJP

AAP Claims Swati Maliwal to be “Face” of BJP

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 17: For the first time since the Swati Maliwal controversy broke out on Monday, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday came out openly against its Rajya Sabha member and described the former chief of the Delhi Commission for Women as the “face” of the BJP to try to malign the chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Launching an all-out attack on Ms Maliwal days after she accused Mr Kejriwal’s personal assistant Bibhav Kumar of assaulting her at the Delhi chief minister’s residence, the AAP on Friday called her allegations as ‘lies’.

Delhi minster Atishi said, “Ever since Arvind Kejriwal has got bail, the BJP is rattled. Due to this, the BJP hatched a conspiracy, under which Swati Maliwal was sent to Arvind Kejriwal’s house on the morning of 13th May. Swati Maliwal was the face and pawn of this conspiracy.”

“They (BJP) intended to accuse Kejriwal but the CM was not there at that time so he was saved. After that, Swati Maliwal accused Bibhav Kumar. In her complaint to the police, she said she was assaulted,” she added.

“The video which has come out today shows her sitting comfortably in the drawing room (of the CM house) and threatening the police officials. She was also seen threatening Bibhav Kumar in the video. Neither her clothes were not torn nor any injury on her head can be seen in the video,” the minister added.

The Delhi Police filed an FIR in the case based on the complaint of Swati Maliwal on Thursday. According to the FIR, Maliwal, in her complaint, has alleged that Kejriwal’s personal secretary, Bibhav Kumar, “slapped” her “at least seven to eight times” while she “continued screaming” and “brutally dragged” her while “kicking” her in her “chest, stomach and pelvis area.”

The video referred by Ms Atishi was a 52-second video of Monday’s confrontation between Ms Maliwal and staffers at Mr Kejriwal’s home – in which she is seen (briefly) and heard arguing with the guards, who repeatedly demand she leave the premises. The woman in the video – believed to be Ms Maliwal – refuses, threatens the guards with police action, and then dares them to physically throw her out.

Pointing to the video – which Ms Maliwal has said is being viewed out of context – the AAP leader claimed it exposed “plans” hatched by the BJP to target Mr Kejriwal – who was released on bail last week after his arrest in March on corruption charges – days before the Delhi Lok Sabha election.

Atishi claimed the BJP is in cahoots with Ms Maliwal, whom she labelled the “face and pawn of this conspiracy” – and that the “rattled” saffron party had been forced into this move because of the growing popularity of the Delhi Chief Minister and his status in the national political landscape.

The party has also dismissed reports Ms Maliwal had been summoned to a meeting by the Chief Minister; Atishi pointed out this evening that Mr Kejriwal was, in fact, not at home. Atishi also confirmed that Mr Kumar – who faces charges that include assault and criminal intimidation – based on Ms Maliwal’s statement Thursday – has filed a counter-complaint.

The entire controversy, which broke Monday, has also spun into a political row, with the BJP gleefully attacking the AAP and Mr Kejriwal ahead of voting for Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats. Mr Kejriwal, whose bail ends June 2, has faced renewed calls to resign, but has maintained radio silence on this topic, focusing, instead, on his party’s campaign for the Lok Sabha election.

Meanwhile, a police team took the AAP MP to the Delhi Chief Minister’s residence in the city’s Civil Lines area, where the alleged assault took place. Ms Maliwal was taken to the house to ‘re-create the crime scene,’ sources said.  Earlier a Delhi Police team, accompanied by five forensic scientists, had visited the house. The four-member team was led by Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Anjitha Chepyala.

The forensic team, which visited the building with the cops, returned with Ms Maliwal. In addition to collecting CCTV footage from the living room, where Ms Maliwal has claimed she was assaulted,  the police reportedly recorded witness statements and spoke to members of Arvind Kejriwal’s security staff, including those seen arguing with the AAP leader in blurry mobile phone footage of the stand-off that was leaked online on Friday morning.

A police case has been filed against Mr Kumar last night based on Ms Maliwal’s statement, which was recorded hours earlier. Bibhav Kumar faces charges that include assault and criminal intimidation. Mr Kumar was also issued a notice by the National Commission for Women to appear this morning, but he failed to do so. A second summons has been issued.



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