Rajesh Garg was one of the many AAP MLAs who in September 2014 got an advice from Arvind Kejriwal: “Record your conversations with those trying to poach our legislators and expose them at an opportune time.” AAP had then been accusing BJP of trying to poach its MLAs to form government.
Garg did follow his boss’ advice. Just that he ended up “stinging” the man who has a fascination for stings to “expose” rivals. A phone call recorded by Garg purportedly shows Kejriwal trying to poach Congress MLAs in July last year.
AAP promptly questioned the authenticity of the tape, and the credibility of Garg, who the party did not field in 2015 elections. The party also pointed that there was no money involved, and “political realignment” was a “reality.”
But this may not be all too simple. Fresh election was AAP’s stated policy after it quit government in 49 days. It moved Supreme Court, met President Pranab Mukherjee, lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, held rallies, launched door-to-door signature campaigns, ran fierce social media campaigns. All this to seek dissolution of the Delhi assembly. The party even accused Jung of trying to allow BJP to take a shot at government formation by poaching MLAs from other parties.
What AAP did not deny on Wednesday is the fact that Kejriwal tried forming government when all this was happening. When it tried keeping BJP from coming to power because the saffron party had refused the shot at the job once. AAP had also abandoned the mandate to rule once, but Kejriwal still went ahead with attempts to stitch together a government.
Garg says the telephonic conversion with Kejriwal happened in July last year, only days before the AAP leader held a rally at Jantar Mantar and gave the centre a week’s ultimatum to hold fresh elections in Delhi.
The first casualty of the “sting” is a resignation from AAP leader Anjali Damania , who said she had not joined the party for “this nonsense” and she backed Kejriwal for principles, not horse-trading.The revelations have come a tad late to impact electorally. But it does raise questions of credibility as the two-year-old party, born out of an anti-corruption campaign, struck a chord with people with its clean image. It may also give fresh ammo to founder members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, under fire for raising issues of ethics within the party.