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Kejriwal defends Somnath Bharti in 'sex racket' row, terms Binny greedy

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, January 18, 2014
First Published: 21:03 IST(18/1/2014) | Last Updated: 21:06 IST(18/1/2014)

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday defended his cabinet colleague Somnath Bharti, who has stoked a controversy for playing a vigilante in order to bust “an active sex racket” in the Capital.

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“I don’t consider Somnath Bharti an embarrassment to the party,” Kejriwal told NDTV news channel, expressing solidarity with him.

Bharti, the law minister in the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, has landed in the eye of the storm after accusing a group of young Africans of being part of a “prostitution and drug racket” in a south Delhi locality.

In an interview with two TV channels, Kejriwal stood behind Bharti, even though Mallika Sarabhai, a new entrant in the AAP, has accused the law minister of making racist remarks against the Africans.

“The Somnath Bharti incident is a creation of the media. The police botched up the investigation,” Kejriwal told news channel CNN-IBN.

Media reports said Bharti had late on Wednesday attempted to carry out a raid in south Delhi’s Khirki Extension.

But, Kejriwal's reply to the channel was, “He did not go there to raid. He went there to find out what was happening.” With the police not helping Bharti in his bid, Kejriwal had earlier demanded strong action against certain officials.

 On Saturday, the Delhi CM reiterated, “The police did not help him. He was just doing his job on that cold night. It’s a media campaign.”

He added, “Somnath Bharati does not have anything against the women.”

He also slammed the Delhi Police, calling them “extortionists”, and reiterated his demands to put them under the jurisdiction of the state government.

 This is not the first time Kejriwal has jumped in to the defence of the Delhi law minister.

Recently, the CM had defended Bharti against reports of his indictment by a court last year for trying to influence a witness and tampering with evidence in a bank fraud case.

The mention of Laxmi Nagar legislator Vinod Kumar Binny, who has rebelled against the AAP, however, touched a raw nerve during the interview.

“He can leave AAP anytime. He is a greedy person,” Kejriwal told CNN-IBN, referring to Binny, who has accused the party of deviating from its poll promises.

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