NEW DELHI (TIP): After a sting operation claimed that AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal had talked of poaching Congress MLAs to form the government in Delhi, a new tape has emerged in which he allegedly said that the Muslims have to vote for them to stop the Narendra Modi wave.
In the conversation– allegedly recorded before Delhi assembly polls- -Kejriwal is reportedly heard saying that Muslims won’t expect AAP to field many candidates from their community beacause they were looking to the party to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“If the party thinks that we field 11 Muslim candidates, then forget it. The question is not that AAP is giving 11 seats to people from the Muslim community. Muslims are looking at us in a way that if anyone can stop the Modi rath, then it is only Aam Aadmi Party,” a voice alleged to be that of Kejriwal is heard saying.
“This is the hope that Muslims have from us. They don’t have any hope that more Muslim candidates will be fielded. Do a survey of 2000, 3000 and 5000 people. Do a survey of Muslims. What is the priority?
“Today, no one is able to stop the Modi rath in the country. They are forming governments in states one after the other. Today, Muslims are looking at us…if anyone can stop the Modi rath. Congress is over. It has given up. It is not contesting polls. They are asking us to field 11 seats,” Kejriwal is heard saying in the tape.
The tape has reportedly recorded when Kejriwal was in conversation with the members of the AAP minority wing and according to an AAP activist they had demanded 11 seats for Muslims which had been rejected.
Member of the minority committee, Shahid Azad was quoted as saying in an Indian Express report that the minority wing had met on 24 November 2014 and decided there should a proportional representation of Muslims in ticket distribution and that they should be consulted before tickets were allotted. “
“But Arvind Kejriwal did not respect processes and the voice of minorities within his party. Many people in the room were recording this conversation which happened in the month of December,” Azad is quoted as saying in the report.
The AAP has also attempted to defend Kejriwal’s stand on the matter by saying that his statements showed that the party was against communal politics of giving seats to Muslims purely because of their religion.
For the AAP and Kejriwal, the timing of the tape couldn’t be worse. Coming after two recordings that claim the AAP was trying to woo the Congress MLAs to switch sides in order to avoid elections, the new tape accuses the AAP chief of not heeding the voice of the minorities in his party.
For a party that had hoped to capitalise on its dramatic success in the Assembly elections this year, none of the tapes that are being aired in public augur well for its national convenor, who is also its best recognised face. He may have managed to hold on to the post by ousting dissidents like Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, but as we’ve pointed out earlier the stings and the manner in which the party has been treating internal dissent may have weakened the party just at the moment when it seemed invincible. Kejriwal has been far too busy scrambling to deal with the internal war to make any meaningful headway on his actual job, ie governing Delhi. And it remains to be seen how long the public will be patient with a party that seems perpetually on the verge of chaos.
‘BHAGORA’ TAG RETURNS TO HAUNT KEJRIWAL
As images of a calm Arvind Kejriwal doing yoga streamed in from Bengaluru, hundreds of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) volunteers were left wondering why the AAP convener and Delhi chief minister didn’t return to the Capital to battle horse-trading charges levelled against him after the surfacing of an audio tape. The tape purportedly has Kejriwal telling former party MLA Rajesh Garg last year to poach six Congress legislators to form the government in Delhi.
Social media was flooded with questions from both supporters and opponents, many of whom revived the ‘bhagora’ (deserter) tag thrust on the AAP leader last year when he quit the government within 49 days.
“He was working when he had high fever and a racking cough last year. The party is going to pieces in his absence right now and he needs to be here. Only he can contain the mess now,” said an AAP volunteer who has been working with the party for close to a year now.
In the tape, the Delhi chief minister can be purportedly heard saying they had tried to poach the Congress legislators many times but hadn’t succeeded, the latest in a string of embarrassments for the party.
“I am a staunch AAP supporter and even campaigned for the party in these elections but the party has failed to address these allegations convincingly. Arvind needs to come back and tell us the truth,” said Mohd Aslam, a resident of Jungpura.
Kejriwal left for Bangalore on March 5, a day after senior leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were ousted from the party’s powerful political affairs committee. According to AAP spokespersons, the chief minister is undergoing naturopathy for elevated blood sugar levels.
Party spokesperson Sanjay Singh, meanwhile on March 12, ruled out any tests to verify the authenticity of the tape. “Authentication is needed when something wrong is being said. Is there any mention of money or cabinet berths being offered? We agree that some of us met Congress leaders to discuss the possibility of government formation. We wanted to stop the BJP,” Singh said.