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BJP Threatens Legal Action against Delhi Minister Atishi, She Claimed was Approached by BJP to Join

BJP Threatens Legal Action against Delhi Minister Atishi, She Claimed was Approached by BJP to Join

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 2: The BJP has threatened to take legal action against the Delhi minister Atishi if she failed to provide proofs in support of her claims that she was approached by the ruling party to join the saffron brigade or face arrest by the Enforcement Directorate along with some other Aam Aadmi Party leaders and ministers.

Within minutes of Atishi told a press conference on Tuesday about the BJP’s alleged approach to her, the Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva said his party would take legal action against Atishi if she fails to provide proof to her claim that the BJP approached her to join it through her close friend, while the union minister Hardeep Singh Puri claimed that the BJP did not have “any vacancy” to accept Atishi in its fold.

The AAP leader Atishi said she had been approached with an offer to jump ship and “save my political career”. “…they threatened that if I don’t switch (then) the Enforcement Directorate will arrest me”, the senior AAP leader said. “If Atishi fails to provide details of the person who she claims approached her on our behalf to join the BJP, we will take legal action against her. She can’t put baseless allegations against us and get away with it,” Mr Sachdeva said.

BJP MP Manoj Tiwari demanded an apology from the AAP Minister warning her to be prepared to face legal action if she does not provide proof to her claim. “We want Atishi to tender an apology for making a false allegation against us or provide proof of the person who approached her. We will take legal action if she does not back her claim by this evening,” he said.

Mr Puri hit back with a reference to the alleged liquor policy scam that has shaken the AAP and the opposition INDIA bloc ahead of the Lok Sabha election. “At a time when the entire AAP is embroiled in the liquor scam, we will not create trouble for ourselves by accepting her in our party,” he said. “We do not have any vacancy for a political activist like Atishi…” Mr Puri said.

Mr Puri’s comment came after Ms Atishi’s claim of she was having told that the saffron party had “made up its mind on crushing everyone (in the Aam Aadmi Party).” “First, they put everyone in AAP’s leadership in jail… Satyendra Jain, Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh, and now Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. BJP’s plan is to arrest four more AAP leaders in the next two months before the Lok Sabha elections. They will arrest me, Saurabh Bharadwaj, Durgesh Pathak and Raghav Chadha,” she said.

She also claimed that she was told “that in the next few days, my house and those of my relatives would be raided. After that I and others will be served summonses and then arrested” adding that, “We are not scared of your summons and threats.” Her claims came a day after the ED told the Rouse Avenue Court that the arrested chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had named her and Saurabh Bhardwaj during questioning in the excise policy scam case. It said that Kejriwal told the central agency that Vijay Nair — accused in the excise policy case — reported to minister Atishi and Bhardwaj. Nair is the former chief of AAP’s media communication cell.

Further Ms Atishi said ED taking hers and Saurabh Bharadwaj’s name in the court was “on the basis of a statement which is available with the ED and CBI for one and a half years.” She said that the statement, cited by the ED, was present in its charge-sheet and also in those of the CBI. “..So what was the reason for raising this statement?” Atishi asked. “The reason for raising this statement was that now the BJP feels that despite Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Sanjay Singh and Satyendra Jain being in jail, the Aam Aadmi Party is still united and strong,” and so it had now planned to arrest even the second and third rung leaders of the party, she said.

Tension between the AAP and the BJP has ramped up over the past few months, and particularly after central probe agencies began investigating the alleged Delhi liquor excise policy scam. Ex-Deputy Chief Minister Sisodia was arrested last February and remains in jail. Mr Singh was arrested in October on money laundering charges related to the alleged scam. Mr Jain, Delhi’s former Health Minister, has also been arrested, albeit in a different case.

The biggest arrest, though, was on March 21; Chief Minister Kejriwal, described by the ED as the “kingpin”, was taken into custody after the Delhi High Court refused protection from arrest. The AAP has accused the BJP of playing foul – by using central agencies like the ED to file fake corruption cases and harass opposition leaders ahead of the election, which begins April 19.

The BJP has rubbished the claims, insisting the ED and other agencies, including income tax officials, are acting independently and in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crackdown on corruption. Atishi has been at the forefront of the AAP’s fight back since Mr Kejriwal – whom the ED has labelled the “kingpin” in the alleged liquor policy scam – was arrested.

The BJP, she said, thought the AAP would splinter after Mr Kejriwal’s arrest. “But after the rally on Sunday (at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan), BJP thinks arrest of four leaders was not enough,” she said.



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