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Former DCW Chief Swati Maliwal may be on her Way to BJP

Former DCW Chief Swati Maliwal may be on her Way to BJP

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, May 16: The over-enthusiastic support by the BJP to the alleged assault complaint by the former Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chairperson Swati Maliwal by a close aide of the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and at his official residence, may be an indication that the Aam Aadmi Party Rajya Sabha member is on her way to join the BJP.

Ms Maliwal, though has not yet lodged an official police complaint, has also not so far come to aid of her party or snub the BJP to keep away from an internal matter of the party. In respect of the AAP, even though the party has officially acknowledged that Mr Kejriwal’s personal assistant Bibhav Kumar had “misbehaved” with her at Mr Kejriwal’s drawing room when she was waiting to meet the chief minister released on interim bail and that he would take “strict action” against him, no step was taken in the last 48 hours.

In addition, Bibhav Kumar was spotted with Mr Kejriwal who arrived in Lucknow on Wednesday evening along with the party’s another Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh. The duo also addressed a joint press conference with the Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and dodged a direct answer on the Maliwal issue.

A three-member team of the senior IPS officers of the Delhi police on Thursday called on Ms Maliwal at her residence to record her statement on the issue but is learnt to have returned empty-handed. The AAP sources believe that Ms Maliwal’s joining the BJP could be timed in such a way that it impact the polling for the seven seats in Delhi in the Lok Sabha elections on May 25.

Her some close family members have also reportedly commented that Ms Maliwal was feeling “unsafe” in the AAP. Her accusations against the CM’s personal assistant has dragged Mr Kejriwal and the AAP, battling against corruption charges in the alleged Delhi liquor policy scam, in a spot of bother.

The Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was campaigning for her brother in Raebareli, also gave a guarded response when asked Maliwal issue. “There are two issues here. If any atrocity happens to any woman anywhere, we stand with the woman. I always stand with women – irrespective of which party they belong to. And, AAP will discuss it among themselves and take a decision. It is up to them,” Ms Gandhi said.

Once bitter rivals, AAP and Congress have now joined forces under the INDIA Opposition bloc to take on the ruling BJP in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls. AAP and Congress have an alliance in Delhi, where the BJP has been winning all seven Lok Sabha seats over the past two elections. The two allies are, however, on opposite sides in Punjab, where AAP is in power and Congress is the main opposition.

With the polls in the national capital due on May 25, the BJP has gone all-out against AAP in the alleged assault case. The BJP’s charge also comes against the backdrop of Mr Kejriwal’s release on interim bail, following which the AAP leader has launched scathing attacks on BJP.

In Lucknow, while Mr Akhilesh Yadav refused to entertain any question on Ms Maliwal saying there were more important issues to be discussed, the AAP MP Sanjay Singh, seated next to the Delhi Chief Minister, responded to the question. “The whole country is upset that a Kargil hero’s wife was stripped and paraded in Manipur, scores of women were tortured, but the Prime Minister is silent. Thousands of women were raped by (JDS MP) Prajwal Revanna, and the Prime Minister seeks votes for him. The BJP helps him flee the country. When our wrestler daughters were fighting for justice at Jantar Mantar, it was Swati Maliwal, then Chairperson of (Delhi) Women’s Commission, who went to support them and was dragged and beaten by the police,” Mr Singh said.

The Rajya Sabha MP said Aam Aadmi Party is a family. “The party has made its stance clear, and I want the Prime Minister and the BJP to respond to all the issues I have raised. Please don’t play political games on this,” he said.

Eager to corner AAP over the issue, the BJP has questioned Mr Kejriwal’s silence on the issue. “She is the leader of the opposition party, but BJP is fighting to ensure that she gets justice. Arvind Kejriwal should answer, if you are a coward CM and cannot speak a single word, then you should resign because the women of the country are angry and feeling insulted and only Arvind Kejriwal is responsible for this,” party spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia has said.

The BJP which had attacked Ms Maliwal when she had criticised the Centre for inaction during alleged atrocities on women in Manipur, launched protests in Delhi demanding an FIR against Mr Kejriwal’s aide and “justice for Swati Maliwal.” Several BJP leaders had also protested near Mr Kejriwal’s official residence on Wednesday against the alleged “misbehaviour” with Swati Maliwal at his residence.

The National Commission for Women, which is often accused of acting at the behest of the BJP, has also taken suo motu notice of the incident involving Ms Maliwal and has summoned Bibhav Kumar on Friday at 11am. The Commission issued a notice, saying that failure to comply could result in further actions as deemed necessary by them.



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