Qqulling a rebellion from within, the Aam Aadmi Party on Monday alleged that representatives of senior BJP leaders Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley had attempted to bribe an AAP MLA into defecting. The BJP was quick to rubbish the allegations, saying it was an attempt to spread “false propaganda”.
The allegations against Jaitley and Modi came from AAP MLA from Kasturba Nagar, Madan Lal. Interestingly, late on Sunday night, reports suggested that Lal was one of the MLAs who would support expelled AAP MLA Vinod Kumar Binny. Along with JD(U) MLA Shoaib Iqbal and Independent MLA Rambir Shokeen, Binny had threatened to pull down the AAP government if their five demands were not met “within 48 hours.”
Shokeen said they met possible rebel MLAs in a hotel in Delhi on Sunday night. “Do not ask me the names of those present at the hotel last night. One of them was Binny’s relative, ask him. I do not want AAP to take action against them. The cameras missed two more MLAs who were present at the hotel apart from SAD MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa,” he claimed. According to sources, Lal is related to Binny.
But, addressing a press conference on Monday, Lal denied being present at the meeting. Instead, he alleged that he had been approached at least three times to break away from the Kejriwal-led government. “On the intervening night of December 7-8, I got a call at 12:34 am. The caller said he wanted to arrange a meeting with some top leaders.
When I asked for a name, he said Arun Jaitley. I told him to shut up. When I tried to call him back, the number was unreachable. The call came from an unknown number,” he claimed.
Lal, who was accompanied by party leaders Sanjay Singh and Ashutosh, admitted that he had no evidence to substantiate his allegations. “Ten days ago, two people came to me and said they were from Gujarat and were close to Modi. They asked me to break away, bring some people with me and form a new party. They said they would help me become the Deputy Chief Minister. They said they would pay me Rs 20 crore, and the others would get Rs 10 crore,” Lal alleged.
Denying the allegations, Jaitley tweeted, “Rubbish claims by AAP. AAP’s alternative politics includes a fundamental right to falsehood and lies.”
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said, “The AAP has given itself the fundamental right to insinuate and slap false charges on their opponents. In their desperation to acquire credibility, recognition and attention, they do not hesitate to name even veteran leaders of the BJP. This verges on false propaganda and defamatory allegations as their claims are without proof.”
Minutes after Lal’s allegations, Binny, Shokeen and Iqbal cut short their protest and met Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday. “The CM met us and said that we all have to run this government together. He said our demands are part of the AAP manifesto and will be met,” said Iqbal. Climbing down from their aggressive stand on Sunday, he said, “We never said anything about pulling down the government”.
Meanwhile, Lal also alleged that he was approached by several people during the training programme for MLAs in the Delhi Assembly last week. “Attempts were made to see if we were ready to be ‘bought’ at the training programme. I was told by Manjinder Singh Sirsa that the government is not going to last very long and I should think about my future. Binny also told me that the government would not last more than 10 days. As soon as these offers were made, I informed the senior leadership of the party,” he claimed.
“I say this with a great deal of responsibility, that all this is a conspiracy by Jaitley and some sections of the media — not all media organisations, but some that are conspiring to bring the Delhi government down,” alleged Ashutosh.
“It is clear that BJP leaders Arun Jaitley and Harsh Vardhan want to make sure that the AAP government falls. Our MLAs were contacted and offered money and top posts. The timing of this news coming out is important. When Arvind announces that an audit will be conducted of all private power companies, there is an attempt to malign the image of the party. The BJP is scared of the AAP’s rising popularity,” said Sanjay Singh, a member of the AAP’s National Executive.