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AAP leader Atishi drops her second name Marlena, denies caste angle

This, a party leader said, was done because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to polarise voters by suggesting that she was a “foreigner and a Christian”.

delhi Updated: Aug 29, 2018 09:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Atishi,Marlena,Name
Party says her parents, both Leftists, combined the surnames of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin to name her Marlena. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi Marlena, who on Monday was declared the east Delhi candidate for the Lok Sabha polls scheduled next year, has dropped her “second name”, Marlena, in all party records and campaign materials.

This, a party leader said, was done because the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was trying to polarise voters by suggesting that she was a “foreigner and a Christian”.

Atishi said she dropped her second name because she “does not want to waste time in proving her identity.”

Supporting her decision to just go by her first name, AAP general secretary Akshay Marathe said “a progressive politician like Atishi who does not use her caste name to ask for votes, is being targeted for using only Atishi without ‘Marlena’.

The party said that her parents, Dr Tripta Wahi and Dr Vijay Singh, who were Leftists, gave her the title “Marlena” after combining the surnames of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.

AAP’s website has changed her name to Atishi, and her Twitter handle has also been changed from @AtishiMarlena to @AtishiAAP.

“My actual surname is Singh and I come from a Punjabi Rajput family. Had I wanted to appease voters then I would have gladly used my real surname,” she said.

“In fact, my intention is contrary to what some people are claiming now. I do not want to waste time in proving my identity to people. I am going to fight this election solely on the basis of our work in the field of education, health and my vision for East Delhi,” she added.

Party functionaries on condition of anonymity said that over the past one month, the BJP has been running a “whisper campaign” against Atishi by spreading rumours that she is a “foreigner” and a Christian.

East Delhi, from where she is going to contest the general elections, is an area dominated by Purvanchalis, who are Hindu migrants from Bihar and eastern UP.

It is estimated that due to migration over the past decades, Purvanchalis now constitute nearly one-third of the city’s over 2 crore population. The East Delhi parliamentary seat alone has 18 lakh voters.

The Delhi BJP denied AAP’s allegations, saying the party never uses religion to win votes. “BJP never practises communal politics. Atishi and AAP are scared of being badly defeated in the Lok Sabha elections. This is an excuse which they have already started giving to the people of Delhi for their defeat,” said Rajesh Bhatia, genreral secretary of Delhi BJP.

A former adviser to education minister Manish Sisodia, Atishi is the first candidate to be announced by AAP for the 2019 elections.

AAP joint secretary Akshay Marathe defended Atishi by calling her a “progressive politician”.

“Atishi, who does now use her caste name ‘Singh’ to ask for votes, is being targeted for using only Atishi without ‘Marlena’. Our discourse is around education and healthcare, not on identities of caste and religion,” he said.

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 01:31 IST