Despite the growing chorus of opposition to Somnath Bharti, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday remained disinclined to take action against the controversial state law minister.
Kejriwal met Lieutenant Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung on Thursday morning. He later said the meeting was a routine one, and added that there was no discussion on or about Bharti.
“It was a routine meeting. There was no discussion on SomnathBharti,” he said.
Hours after Kejriwal’s discussions with Jung, a delegation of Delhi Congress leaders led by state party chief Arvinder Singh Lovely also headed to Raj Bhavan and demanded that LG should intervene and direct Delhi Police to act according to the law.
Later talking to reporters, Lovely said, “LG has assured that he will see to it that impartial probe takes place. Our support to AAP is on 18 issues, if they drift from any of those issues then will think over withdrawing support.”
Kejriwal has been reluctant to take action against Bharti and has defended him even after a Ugandan woman, who was among the four women assaulted in a midnight raid in south Delhi, accused him of having led the group of AAP workers that barged into her house and attacked them.
“We were attacked on Wednesday night by Indians, who were led by Somnath Bharti. We were harassed and hit with sticks they were carrying. They told us to leave the country or else they will kill us one by one,” the woman said.
Besides Bharti, the four women have identified some of his supporters. In their complaint, the women said that they were slapped, molested and subjected to racial slurs. Bharti and his supporters have also been accused of illegally detaining the Ugandan women and forcing them to undergo medical tests.
The Delhi Police, which had earlier filed an FIR against “unknown people”, will have to book Bharti in the case as the Ugandan woman has named him in her statement before the magistrate.
Meanwhile, a fifth Ugandan women has also approached a Delhi court seeking action against Bharti on similar charges.
Acting on her plea, the court has sought a report from Delhi Police and listed the matter for January 25.
Clearly, Bharti is on shaky ground but Kejriwal has, so far, backed him firmly but the whole episode has hit AAP’s image.
Bharti attracted more ire after he said that he would spit on the faces of BJP leader ArunJaitley and senior lawyer Harish Salve for being critical of him.
One of AAP’s main demands during its two-day dharna was the suspension of the Malviya Nagar station house officer for alleged inaction in the raid case.
The party, which later settled for paid leave as ‘punishment’ to the police officer, seems unwilling to take action against Bharti, which may help in ensuring fair probe in the case.
The opposition has alleged that the dharna was an attempt to save Bharti.
By using different yardstick when it came to his own minister, Kejriwal has exposed himself to criticism of not being willing to admit any wrongdoing by AAP leaders.