Forced to add surname in 2014 LS polls: Ashutosh
Former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashutosh on Wednesday waded into the surname controversy, a day after Atishi, the party’s Lok Sabha polls nominee, said she had to drop her “Christian sounding” second name.
Ashutosh, a former journalist who had resigned from AAP on August 15, said that he was forced to add his last name Gupta ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, a claim rejected by the party. He contested the 2014 polls from Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency against Harsh Vardhan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Kapil Sibal of Congress.
“In 23 years of my journalism, no one asked my caste, surname. Was known by my name. But as I was introduced to party workers as Lok Sabha candidate in 2014 my surname was promptly mentioned despite my protest. Later I was told – Sir, aap jeetenge kaise, aapki jaati ke yahan kaafi vote hain (How else will you win, sir? There are several voters of your caste here),” Ashutosh tweeted on Wednesday.
The party, however, dismissed Ashutosh’s claim. “AAP’s political affairs committee (PAC) never takes such decisions. It can be anybody’s personal call,” said Gopal Rai, AAP’s Delhi convener.
Ashutosh said he has now left the party and is not constrained by party discipline. “I am free to express my views. But, it will be wrong to attribute my words as an attack on AAP. I am not a member of anti-AAP brigade,” he said.
On Tuesday, Atishi — a former advisor to Delhi education minister — said she had dropped her second name Marlena to quell rumours that she is a “foreigner” and a “Christian”. The AAP alleged these rumours were being spread by the BJP in her constituency to polarise voters. Marlena is a combination of last names of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin, given to Atishi by her parents who are Communists. Coming from a Punjabi Rajput family, she claimed never using her real surname Singh or the second name Marlena in school as well.
However, the AAP changed Atishi Marlena’s name on the party website to Atishi, and
her twitter handle also was changed from @AtishiMarlena to @AtishiAAP.
In another tweet, Ashutosh also criticised the BJP, stating that its leaders should take a dip in the holy Ganga and declare that they would never ask for votes on the basis of caste.
Delhi BJP unit chief Manoj Tiwari said the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP is trying to spread “religious frenzy”. “It is regrettable that the people who had claimed to change politics are trying to play caste politics and spread religious frenzy. The BJP condemns this and warns Arvind Kejriwal that he should desist from vitiating the social, religious and political atmosphere of the capital, otherwise he will have to pay a heavy price in the next elections,” Tiwari said.