AAP condemns Somnath Bharti`s language, but refuses to act against him
The Aam Aadmi Party defended Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti even as pressure mounted on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for removal of the controversial Law Minister for allegedly leading a group of assaulters in a midnight raid in South Delhi last week.
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party on Thursday defended Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti even as pressure mounted on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for removal of the controversial Law Minister for allegedly leading a group of assaulters in a midnight raid in South Delhi last week.
Ruling out any action against Bharti, AAP`s chief spokesperson Yogendra Yadav said there was no evidence to suggest that the Law Minister made racist comments or misbehaved with African women during the midnight raid.
Talking to reporters after the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the AAP ended, in which Bharti had been summoned, Yadav said, "Looking at the evidence, prima facie, we don`t find anything procedurally wrong... Mr Bharti did not misuse his powers as a minister."
Standing by Bharti over his vigilante-style midnight raid, Yadav said: "Somnath Bharti didn`t intervene in the Khirki Extension matter due to any personal agenda but due to repeated requests of locals."
Yadav said the party felt that drug and prostitution rackets are being run for a long time in the Khirki Extension area of South Delhi and it was a "serious problem" being faced by the residents in the area.
"Several complaints have been lodged with the police, but even after that no action was taken. Bharti did no wrong and in fact he should lauded for his efforts to address people`s grievances," Yadav said.
"The party has not found any evidence against Bharti on three counts. First he did not do anything which was unbecoming of a minister. The preliminary probe by the party has not found him misbehaving or assaulting Ugandan women. He was also not found using any racial slur," Yadav told reporters here.
Yadav, however, promised that his party would take an action against the lawyer-turned-politician if the inquiry ordered by Delhi`s Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung finds him guilty.
Yadav also added that AAP has warned Bharti against the use of foul language, referring to the Law Minister`s crass remarks against BJP leader Arun Jaitley and senior lawyer Harish Salve.
"Somnath Bharti used obscene language against political opponents. We condemned it and told him to exercise restrain," IANS quoted Yadav as saying.
Bharti had courted controversy when he said that he would want to spit on the faces of Jaitley and Salve after they criticised his midnight raid in the Khirki Extension last week.
The AAP`s decison comes amidst growing chorus for Bharti`s sacking from Congress, BJP and other quarters.
Earlier in the day, PTI reported that hardening stand against Bharti, a Congress delegation met Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and asked him to direct the police to take immediate action against the minister as he was "not above law of the land".
"Delhi Police is not probing the case thoroughly. We have demanded the Lt Governor to direct Delhi Police to proceed as per law in this case. The Law Minister is not above the law. Whatever legal action is to be taken, should be taken. The LG has assured us of a fair probe," DPCC Chief Arvinder Singh Lovely, whose party is giving outside support to AAP government, told reporters after the meeting.
The Chief Minister also had a meeting with Jung in the morning but when asked about it he said the Bharti issue was not discussed. "It was a routine meeting," he said.
The Law Minister was involved in a row with the police last week when they refused to raid a suspected drug and prostitution racket following which he allegedly led his supporters in forcing the women to give urine samples.
Three foreign women have till date recorded their statements before a magistrate, in which they have stated that Bharti, the MLA from Malviya Nagar, had barged into their house along with his supporters on the intervening night of January 15-16, according to court sources.
The Delhi police has already registered a case on January 19 against unknown persons on a plea.
Stepping up pressure on AAP, a delegation of Delhi BJP led by its president Vijay Goel met Delhi Police Commissioner BS Bassi and demanded immediate action against Bharti.
"The BJP will not relent till Somnath Bharti is sacked," Goel said.
The party said law should prevail and proceedings against him for his "misdemeanour" should reach their logical conclusion. It also alleged "match fixing between Congress and AAP to somehow stop Narendra Modi".
A number of women`s rights activists have also demanded action against the minister saying he had violated laws relating to women.
The Delhi Commission for Women has summoned Bharti to depose before it tomorrow. DCW sources said if the Minister did not turn up then it will take up the matter with the Lt Governor.
Lovely said the Congress delegation also took up the issue of violation of Section 144 of CrPC by the Delhi Chief Minister by staging a two-day protest outside the Rail Bhavan in Raisina Hills area.
Asked why Congress was not withdrawing support from AAP government if the party thinks that Bharti was at fault, Lovely said that Congress gave outside support to AAP on 18 issues related to public welfare.
"If AAP government doesn`t work on these issue, then we would definitely consider withdrawing support," Lovely said.
The BJP delegation that met Bassi also sought action against Kejriwal for staging the dharna flouting prohibitory orders.
"Kejriwal violated section 144 of IPC during his dharna outside Rail Bhawan for two days and yet he has not been named in an FIR and no action has been initiated against him. The law must take its course," said Goel.
(With Agency inputs)