The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) lost a lawmaker to the BJP ahead of crucial municipal elections in the Capital, as Bawana MLA Ved Parkash joined the rival party on Monday after accusing the leadership of running a coterie.
Parkash, who resigned from the assembly, said about 35 unhappy AAP lawmakers could switch side to the BJP.
The AAP was quick to blame the defection on the BJP, accusing the opposition party of attempting to destabilise chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government.
“The BJP does not believe in democracy. It wants to rule by dislodging governments and breaking parties. We witnessed that in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand earlier and in Manipur and Goa recently. They are starting to do the same in Delhi,” AAP leader Sanjay Singh said outside Kejriwal’s home.
The AAP leaders played down unverified reports that a dozen disgruntled legislators were in touch with the BJP, which had just three MLAs in the 70-member Delhi assembly before Parkash broke ranks.
“I joined the AAP with a hope that there will be some change, but I am disillusioned ... I have neither quit under duress nor will I take any post in the BJP and will abide by the decisions taken by the party leadership,” Parkash said.
The AAP turncoat told reporters at the Delhi BJP office that he was influenced by the BJP’s decision to “make a priest (Adityanath Yogi) the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh”.
He alleged that chief minister Kejriwal is not “concerned” about ground realities, and focuses his entire attention to defame Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.
“Modiji is a saint and with this hope I have joined the BJP,” he said.
He accused the Kejriwal government of failing to deliver on the party’s poll promises, and the top leadership of “suppressing” MLAs who broached the development topic.
Delhi BJP chief Tiwari said people have now understood how they were cheated by the AAP.
The development buoyed the BJP’s campaign to retain power in the city’s three municipal corporations, which go to the polls on April 23.
The AAP is trying to dislodge the BJP, which has been ruling the corporations for the past decade, and keep the Congress at bay in the high-stakes civic polls. The cash-strapped corporations, struggling to pay staff wages and quell labour unrest, have been the object of a bitter AAP-BJP political battle.
The AAP is confident of winning the civic elections.
“People punished the BJP for trying to weaken the AAP by giving 67 seats to us in the Delhi assembly,” Sanjay Singh said.
He recalled how the BJP poached four AAP legislators, including then speaker MS Dhir, and fielded them in the 2015 assembly elections. “The BJP will face a similar fate in the municipal elections,” he said.