BJP steps up attack on Bharti, AAP stands by him (Roundup)

New Delhi, Jan 24: The BJP and a rebel AAP legislator Friday stepped up their demand for Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti’s exit from the AAP government over his action against an alleged sex-and-drugs ring that has led to a mini exodus of Africans from a south Delhi colony.

Vijay Goel, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi unit chief, met Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung to demand Bharti’s resignation, accusing the minister of behaving “illegitimately … with Ugandan women”.

“The LG has promised that the case registered against Somnath Bharti will be investigated and legal action taken,” Goel told the media.

The Aam Aadmi Party continues to defend Bharti for his controversial midnight campaign targeting Africans in the Khirki Extension neighbourhood saying prima facie he had procedurally done nothing wrong.

The party, however, cautioned him over the offensive language he used against BJP leader Arun Jaitley and senior lawyer Harish Salve.

BJP activists protested at 14 places in the national capital Friday demanding Bharti’s resignation.

Following the footsteps of the BJP leadership, rebel AAP legislator Vinod Kumar Binny met Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi and sought action against Bharti for his Oct 15-16 midnight “raid”.

“The antics of our law minister has brought shame to Delhi and the country. (Delhi) chief minister (Arvind Kejriwal) should have removed him by now. He must step down,” Binny said.

He quoted Bassi as saying “all necessary action” would be taken “in a time-bound manner and no special treatment will be meted out (to Bharti)”.

Binny also sought action against Kejriwal and his ministers for holding a 36-hour protest in the heart of the capital that led to scuffles between AAP activists and police.

Kejriwal spent a night on the pavement demanding action against police officers he said had not acted on his ministers’ requests in two criminal cases. He also wanted Delhi Police to report to his elected government.

Four cases have been filed over the protest though Kejriwal has not been directly named in any.

The Supreme Court Friday pulled up Delhi Police for allowing Kejriwal and his ministers to protest in the heart of the capital Jan 20-21 defying orders banning the assembly five or more people.

In a related incident, Bharti Friday failed to appear before the Delhi Women Commission probing his controversial action against the alleged “sex-and-drugs ring”.

The commission said it would report the matter to Lt. Governor Jung.

Bharti sent his lawyers to meet the women’s panel, leading to an argument the lawyers and the panel members.

Barkha Singh, who heads the Commission, said: “We wanted to talk to Bharti. If he was not appearing before us, he should have informed us.”

Minister Bharti said he took action against the alleged “sex-and-drugs” ring following representations from local residents.

Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia said there was no need for Africans to leave the area.

“I appeal to the (African) people not to leave Khirki Extension,” Sisodia said. “The people of Khirki Extension are well meaning. I appeal to them too to persuade them (Africans) to stay on.”

The Congress, which props up the Kejriwal government, taunted the AAP over its refusal to act against Bharti.

“The party took birth talking of high values,” said Congress spokesperson Shobha Ojha.

Delhi BJP leader Harsh Vardhan hit out at the “most arrogant” AAP, saying it was shameful that it had given a clean chit to Bharti.

IANS