Cong 'shocked', BJP points to 'double standards', AAP in trouble: Who said what | india | Hindustan Times
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Cong 'shocked', BJP points to 'double standards', AAP in trouble: Who said what

An audio tape, that purportedly has Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal telling a former Aam Aadmi Party MLA to poach six Congress legislators to form the government in the Capital last year, has come as a fresh blow to the party riddled by factionalism. Soon after AAP was stung by the tape, varied reactions from AAP leaders, Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the rebel camp started pouring in. Here's all you need to know about the development and who said what over the controversy.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2015 14:27 IST
Arvind-Kejriwal-with-Yogendra-Yadav-during-a-meeting-with-AAP-workers-in-New-Delhi-on-Wednesday-December-3-2014-HT-Photo-Sanjeev-Verma
Arvind-Kejriwal-with-Yogendra-Yadav-during-a-meeting-with-AAP-workers-in-New-Delhi-on-Wednesday-December-3-2014-HT-Photo-Sanjeev-Verma

An audio tape, that purportedly has Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal telling a former Aam Aadmi Party MLA to poach six Congress legislators to form the government in the Capital last year, has come as a fresh blow to the party riddled by factionalism.

Soon after AAP was stung by the tape, varied reactions from AAP leaders, Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the rebel camp started pouring in.

While Anjali Damania, the party's Mumbai face, quit over the 'nonsense', Kumar Vishwas turned the heat on former MLA Rajesh Garg, who featured in the alleged conversation with Kejriwal in the tape.

The Congress party did not let the opportunity go and accused the two-year-old party - which boasts of transparency and pro-poor, anti-corruption stand - of going to any extent for power.

Here's all you need to know about the development and who said what over the controversy.

Stinging sound: What is the row about

In a murky twist to the raging infighting in the AAP, former party MLA Garg accused Kejriwal of trying to poach 6 Congress MLAs to form the government last year.

He also claimed that Manish Sisodia, now the deputy chief minister in Kejriwal's cabinet, was in touch with the Congress MLAs to lure them to float a new party and then support the AAP from outside.

"We are ready to form the government, but Congress is not ready to support us. Manish (Sisodia) is in touch with the Congress. Do one thing, split the Congress and ask their 6 MLAs to float a new party and support us," Kejriwal was allegedly heard saying in a telephonic conversation with Garg.

Garg also alleged that Kejriwal wanted to avoid facing the elections.

"Congress won't support us. We have been trying for the last one and a half month. These 6 Congress MLAs would have supported the BJP, but 3 of them are Muslims. They won't support the BJP. Those 6 MLAs should support us," Kejriwal told Garg in the audio clip.

After the controversy broke over the tape, Garg feigned ignorance on how it became public saying he had emailed it to Vishwas.

In the wake of the controversy, former Congress MLA Mateen Ahmed said, "I wasn't offered any money, they just asked for my support and said we will run the government together."

The fallout

The revelation that came barely a month after the AAP won a historic mandate in Delhi is a massive setback for Kejriwal and his rookie party, which grew out of an anti-corruption campaign and struck a chord with millions of people over its clean image.

Minutes after the sensational sting hit the airwaves, the party's senior Maharashtra leader Damania quit over the controversy. Her resignation came as a bodyblow to the AAP in the state where she had become the face of the party's campaign against corruption.

The activist had exposed the irrigation scam in Maharashtra and contested the Lok Sabha elections against BJP leader Nitin Gadkari from Nagpur.

Enough of the nonsense, says Damania

Demanding a probe into the allegations within 48 hours, Damania tweeted, "I quit... I have not come into AAP for this nonsense."

In a reference to Kejriwal, whom she considered her mentor and idol, Damania said: "I believed him. I backed Arvind for principles not horse-trading."

In a series of tweets, she said: "Aap is not a political party. It was a ray of hope for this country. Thousands of vols (volunteers) slogged for it. Just no one can play with the siddhant (principles)."

Referring to Kejriwal and party leader Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, she wrote: "Aap will only work on Siddhant. Just enough of nonsense. Arvind, PB & YY should beg apology to the karyakarta in next 48 hrs for their acts."

"I demand inquiry in 48 hrs into all these allegations. Vols have given their sweat & blood. It is not for the party... It is for the country."

Vishwas hits back

Vishwas alleged Garg was trying to blackmail him in return for a party ticket.

"Mr failed conspirator Rajesh Garg Ji, I had forwarded the audio clip to the party on the same day you tried to blackmail me with the same.

"That was when you tried to exchange a Vidhansabha ticket with this audio.. remember? Denied a ticket, u r free to do whatever u wish," Vishwas tweeted.

Garg, who represented the party from Rohini, was denied nomination in recent assembly polls in Delhi.

AAP leaders firefight

Ashish Khetan tried to justify the taped conversation by saying that such type of political realignments keep on happening in the country and it cannot be considered as "poaching".

"Some people are using the big word like 'horse trading' very irresponsibly," said Khetan.

Preeti Sharma Menon said Damania has agreed that she needs to get to the bottom of this.

"Whatever misunderstanding Anjali Damania ji has had, we will discuss and clarify," said Ashutosh.

Autocratic AAP: Congress' reaction

The Congress said the AAP in Delhi had proved to be different -- only in terms of its autocracy.

Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken expressed "shock" over the allegation and said he mentioned about it during the campaign for the assembly polls but Kejriwal had rejected it as a "bunch of lies".

"This is really shocking. I knew that AAP had approached our MLAs and tried to lure them to quit the party. It is now very clear that AAP can go to any extent to grab power," he said.

Double standards, says BJP

Leader of the BJP legislature party in Delhi assembly, Vijender Gupta, said that the "double standard" of AAP has been exposed by audio tape.

He also demanded an apology from Kejriwal to the people of Delhi as they were feeling "cheated".

"On the one hand chief minister Arvind Kejriwal was talking to the former MLA of AAP and was trying to split the Congress to get the support of its MLAs and on the other he was claiming before the people that he does not adopt any immoral methods," said Gupta.

BJP's Shazia Ilmi, who parted ways with the AAP ahead of the Delhi polls, said, "Arvind Kejriwal has sidelined all the principles for his lust for power.

We said so, say dissidents

The allegations also appeared to have some support from rebel leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, who released a letter to the media saying Kejriwal and some sections of the party were trying to get Congress support after receiving a drubbing in the Lok Sabha elections.

Efforts to get Congress backing continued until last November, the letter had said.

Similar allegations had been levelled by Bhushan two weeks ago. Yadav also demanded the issue be brought to the party ombudsman (lokpal) Admiral Ramdas.