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Mired in corruption and allegations of assault on own MP in CM’s residence – How AAP has become a liability for I.N.D.I. Alliance ahead of elections in Delhi

In a major snub to its I.N.D.I. alliance partner, the Aam Aadmi Party, several media reports have indicated that the Congress party has not invited AAP Supremo Arvind Kejriwal to Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Delhi on Saturday, 18th May. Notably, while AAP and Congress are jointly contesting under the I.N.D.I. alliance against the BJP for 7 Lok Sabha seats in the national capital, reports suggest that discontent is brewing within the Congress party against its alliance partner, AAP. 

According to reports, I.N.D.I. alliance leaders, who hardly held joint rallies or press conferences during the first three phases of the Lok Sabha elections, recently changed their stance to show unity and appeal to their committed voter base to vote for the alliance candidates. On 17th May, Rahul Gandhi joined Samajwadi Party Supremo Akhilesh Yadav in Rae Bareli and Amethi. However, reports suggest that discontent is simmering among alliance partners, particularly against the Aam Aadmi Party, which has faced backlash after a close aide of AAP Supremo and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, Bibhav Kumar, assaulted one of its party MPs inside the latter’s residence. 

Out on interim bail, Arvind Kejriwal was recently seen alongside alliance leaders Sharad Pawar, Mallikarjun Kharge, and Uddhav Thackeray, among others, on the podium at a joint I.N.D.I. alliance rally in Mumbai. However, AAP, considered a better-poised regional player in Delhi, has reportedly not got an invite to Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Delhi on 18th May. Incidentally, when Rahul Gandhi will hold a rally in Ashok Vihar, Delhi, AAP Supremo Kejriwal will be campaigning for Aam Aadmi Party candidates in Delhi.  

This development comes at a time when Bibhav Kumar, a close aide of Arvind Kejriwal, has been arrested from the Delhi CM’s residence based on an FIR filed by AAP Rajya Sabha MP Swati Maliwal. However, Congress has refuted reports of discontent or that it is distancing itself from the AAP, claiming that Rahul Gandhi’s rally is not a joint rally. 

Delhi Congress unit and several Congress leaders demand an investigation into Swati Maliwal’s allegation

Additionally, the Congress Party’s Delhi unit has also sought an investigation into Swati Maliwal’s allegations and demanded strict action against the accused. Making his first statement in the case, Delhi Congress’s interim president Devender Yadav said, “The FIR was registered today and Swati Maliwal has given her statement. There should be proper investigation in the case and strict action should be taken against the person responsible for it.”

Yadav added that the Congress stand is very clear on such issues and it stood by any woman who was subjected to atrocities and misconduct. 

“Clarity will emerge only after the investigation. But our stand is very clear. Swati Maliwal ji is a Rajya Sabha member, but even if an ordinary woman is harassed or misbehaved with, it will not be tolerated,” the Interim Delhi Congress President Yadav added.

Additionally, addressing a press conference on Friday, West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also stated that a strict probe must be conducted in the Swati Maliwal assault case. 

Chowdhury said, “This is a serious offence that should not have happened. Any person, whether Minister or not, does not have the right to assault a woman, regardless of the fact she is an MP, MLA or not.” 

He added, “Strict action should be taken against this. The guilty one should be arrested, interrogated, and should be brought to justice.” 

A day earlier, on Thursday (16th May), Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had expressed solidarity with Maliwal. Additionally, the party’s women functionaries in Delhi echoed her remarks. 

Speaking to ANI, Vadra had said, “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.” She, however, dubbed it an internal matter of the AAP stating, “AAP will discuss among themselves and make a decision. It is up to them.” 

Furthermore, AAP has exacerbated the woes of the I.N.D.I. alliance, which has been grappling with its own insurmountable challenges. It has dragged the alliance down on two crucial issues dominating the polls – corruption and women’s safety, thus exacerbating the political crisis for the alliance as a whole. Its leaders have been facing the heat and mounting criticism for sharing the stage with AAP leaders at a time when the latter has been deflecting questions and shifting vicarious liability for AAP’s misdeeds onto its alliance partners.

AAP has caused trouble for the alliance by casting a pall over its campaign, incessantly stirring major controversies ahead of the remaining phases of polling for the Lok Sabha 2024 elections. It has forced alliance leaders to spend their energy on defusing the controversies stirred by AAP, especially following Kejriwal’s release from jail. This has prompted several political pundits and supporters of the I.N.D.I. alliance to suggest that the AAP leader might have garnered more sympathy votes had he remained in jail and is becoming a liability for the alliance after getting Interim bail for campaigning. 

Apart from this, after the completion of elections for all Lok Sabha seats in the Southern belt, AAP is the only major alliance partner that is both in alliance with Congress and simultaneously fighting against them in Punjab, thus undoing its efforts to maintain consistency on major issues like corruption, women’s safety, and the governance model of their alliance partners.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Paurush Gupta
Paurush Gupta
Proud Bhartiya, Hindu, Karma believer. Accidental Journalist who loves to read and write. Keen observer of National Politics and Geopolitics. Cinephile.

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