The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) found itself mired in yet another controversy on Monday after party leader Kumar Vishwas was summoned by the Delhi Commission for Women following a party volunteer's claims over "false rumours" of an illicit relationship.
The woman alleged Vishwas had done nothing to clear the air, despite rumours of his having an affair with the woman causing trouble in her personal life.
AAP's political opponents latched onto the opportunity to launch a tirade against Delhi's ruling party, which has been battling tough times in the wake of an ugly internal squabble, a tug of war with the Delhi lieutenant governor over the routing of files and a farmer's death at one of its recent rallies in the heart of the national capital.
Even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress kick-started a joint offensive against the AAP and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, Vishwas said he will not be "affected or frightened away by attempts to malign us with lies". The AAP defended its leader amid a barrage of attacks.Here's all you need to know about the controversy and who said what as the dramatic events of Monday unfolded.
The controversy erupted after an AAP volunteer alleged about "false rumours" of an illicit relationship were ruining her reputation, and that the AAP leader should come forward to clarify the matter.
She approached the Delhi women's commission and said Vishwas took no action towards dispelling the "rumours", while Kejriwal did not take note of her complaint. According to her, she had written letters to the Delhi chief minister and police commissioner on the matter.
Women's commission chairperson Barkha Singh said the volunteer had been seeking their help for some time. "He (Vishwas) should come since the complainant is his own party's volunteer. Her marriage is falling apart," she said.
The woman claimed to have campaigned for Vishwas in Amethi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Under fire, Vishwas said, "We will not be affected...We will fight till our last breath against political corruption." Vishwas, a member of AAP's Political Affairs Committee, was asked to appear before the commission on Tuesday along with this wife.
Vishwas said the woman had registered a police complaint saying that some persons, including a BJP spokesperson, were spreading lies against her on social media.
"She registered complaint 15 days back, but police have not taken any action yet. She had sent me a mail asking Kumar bhaiya, what should I do now? Thereafter, our AAP's legal cell asked her to register an FIR in this regard," said Vishwas.
The AAP leader, who has in the past courted controversy over his alleged derogatory remarks against women, accused the media of playing into the hands of the BJP and being "extortionist".
"Stories are being planted (by media), wrong campaigning is being done, but such people have forgotten that they too have families," he told ANI. "These allegations are totally baseless. During Delhi assembly elections, we were defamed by the BJP. A private TV channel is running a baseless story against me...I have sent a defamation notice to it."
This is only being done to bring us down,but I'll keep on fighting against such dirty politics, We are not going to be scared: Kumar Vishwas— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2015
Upset wo log hain jo zero par aye hain, aur hum unhe upset karte rahenge: Kumar Vishwas pic.twitter.com/VnKwOTuAaT— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2015
The complainant speaks
The woman said her husband had left her because of the allegations.
"I have two children. I come from a middle class family where they feel that since Kumar Vishwas is an AAP spokesperson and a known face, maybe there was something between the two."
"I am unable to explain. That's why I want Kumar Vishwas to speak on this but he is not doing so. That's why I had to go to the women's commission," she said. She also alleged that she had received a threatening call over her complaint.
According to her, she had participated as an AAP volunteer in the 2014 polls. "Later I saw a post on social media in 2015, in which Vishwas' wife claimed that she caught us in an objectionable position," ANI quoted her as saying.
She told the news agency she had appealed to Vishwas to clarify, but the AAP leader ignored.
I complained against people who had posted my picture on social network, don't know if they are from BJP or AAP: Complainant— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2015
"I'm neither BJP agent nor Congress' agent… I have only appealed to Kumar Vishwas to give clarification on the matter.
"I have just asked him to come forward, make it clear publicly that nothing happened between us. Why can't he do that?" she asked.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh advised the media to refrain from targeting the party without evidence and to spare family members of party leaders.
"If there is a premeditated strategy to target AAP, then please don't be part of it. If there is any evidence, if you have facts, then please run a story. But please don't run cooked up stories where the fact is something and something else is being run," said Singh.
"It is my humble request to friends in media. If we are wrong, do run a story, crucify us, we have not problem. But kindly spare our families, our wives, our children get hurt by these stories, please spare them," Singh added.
That woman filed a complaint against 4 ppl,her complaint doesn't say anything about illicit affair: Sanjay Singh, AAP pic.twitter.com/ly5FnkOzUP— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2015
Congress leader Ajay Maken said it was a serious complaint and should be looked into.
The party accused Kejriwal and Vishwas of being "apathetic and insensitive", and alleged that the Delhi CM was shielding party leaders facing serious charges.
Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said, "The victim knocked on the door of chief minister Kejriwal but he remained silent...Such apathetic and insensitive behaviour from him is very unfortunate."
This must be investigated thoroughly, if found guilty Kumar Vishwas must be punished: Shobha Oza, Congress pic.twitter.com/E1H9RPfse1— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2015
Speaking on the issue, Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) chief spokesperson Sharmistha Mukherjee said, "We strongly condemn it and want that the matter should be probed properly as the allegations are serious."
This is very serious allegation on Kumar Vishwas, whole matter should be thoroughly probed: Sharmistha Mukherjee,Cong pic.twitter.com/d8XvjhKmnK— ANI (@ANI_news) May 4, 2015
BJP ups ante
Delhi BJP leader Vijendra Gupta said that Vishwas and the Delhi CM should come forward to clarify the matter. "If he is not clarifying that means there is something fishy.... we are with that woman and will support her," he said.
BJP leader RP Singh said, "It's unfair on the part of Kumar Vishwas to keep quiet on issue of dignity of his female worker when the matter relates to him."
Shazia Ilmi, Vishwas' former AAP colleague and currently a BJP leader, said, "Whether it's Kumar Vishwas or any other person, if a girl's dignity has been violated to such an extent, it must be probed."
Police register FIR
Delhi Police said it had registered an FIR and a probe was underway.
According to police, the FIR was registered on April 29 under IPC Section 509 (insulting the modesty of a woman) and Section 67A of the IT Act at Nand Nagri police station in northeast Delhi. No arrests were made in the case so far.
Deputy commissioner of police (northeast), Veenu Bansal, said he did not reveal the names of the accused in the FIR, but sources said that three persons were been named by the woman.