After courting controversy for his midnight raid at Khirki Extension, former Law Minister Somnath Bharti on Monday stirred a fresh row when he led a group of protesters from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) outside the MCD office in South Delhi, calling officials of the corporation and BJP councillors corrupt.
Before Bharti arrived at the spot, a fight broke out between MCD officials and a group of people, who MCD officials alleged, were AAP supporters. An MCD engineer was assaulted in the scuffle.
Around 12 pm, Ashok Kumar, executive engineer (buildings) in the MCD, alleged “a person wearing an AAP cap” approached him at the gate of the MCD office. “He was aggressive and he alleged we were taking bribes for unauthorised constructions in Hauz Khas Village… In the meantime, three to four people joined him. They hit me and I fell. They dragged me till the staircase,” Kumar alleged.
On allegations of corruption in the department, Kumar said, “I’m ready to resign if there is any evidence which proves that I or any of my officials have taken bribes.”
A senior police officer said, “Based on the complaint of the engineer, we have registered a case against one Dayanand at Safdarjung police station. A thorough investigation will be done. We are looking into the matter.”
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The AAP denied its supporters indulged in violence. “The AAP believes in non-violence. None of our dharnas have had any instances of violence and this one was no exception,” Bharti, AAP MLA from Malviya Nagar, said.
“An inquiry should be instituted to check how MCD councillors have acquired disproportionate wealth. If BJP members are listening to me, I want to tell them that the inquiry will look at every rupee of the people, which they have looted,” he said.
Training his guns on Arti Mehra, former mayor and BJP’s Assembly candidate from Malviya Nagar, Bharti said, “For 15 years, the BJP has been in power in the MCD. Nearly 80 per cent of corruption is in the MCD… Arti Mehra has a lot of corruption charges against her. Instead of demolishing buildings of the aam aadmi, why aren’t surveys being conducted on the assets of politicians? The MCD should do a thorough survey of all the properties belonging to leaders of all political parties… The aim of the protest is to expose corruption in MCD….”
On the scuffle that broke out at the protest venue, Bharti said, “I was not present when the incident took place. But I came to know about it… After a person has spent lakhs of rupees on a building, they ask for bribes. The person is left with no choice but to give in to their demands. If MCD officials do not get any money, they demolish buildings.”