Nine months before BJP councillor from Vasant Kunj, Manoj Mehlawat, was arrested by the CBI in an alleged bribery case, written complaints were made against him by BJP’s Mehrauli district unit to the Delhi leadership and the Central BJP that he had plotted against the party’s official candidate from Vasant Kunj in the Assembly polls held earlier this year, sources said.
“Manoj Mehlawat’s corruption in Vasant Kunj has given a bad name to the party and also led to the vote being cut,” stated the letter written in March.
On Friday, Mehlawat was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly taking a bribe to help a man get municipal clearance for construction of his house. Sources said the complainant approached the agency alleging that the councillor was demanding a bribe of Rs 10 lakh. BJP said he has been suspended from the party.
A first-time councilor in the 2017 MCD polls, Mehlawat rose to prominence in the party when he became district general secretary in 2015 from Mehrauli district. Before that, he was president of the district’s youth wing.
“He was a beneficiary of the party’s decision to field new faces in 2017, even though the previous councillor from the area enjoyed a decent image,” said a senior BJP leader.
According to his election affidavit, there are four cases registered against him in which charges have been framed — voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means (IPC Section 324), criminal intimidation charges (IPC Section 506), wrongful restraint (IPC Section 341), charges related to mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees (IPC Section 427).
He studied till Class XII and is a resident of Masoodpur. He declared movable assets of Rs 41,06,578 and immovable assets of Rs 50,00,000, as per the affidavit. Before politics, he was into business.
Sources in the party also said some RWAs in the area had complained against Mehlawat to the state unit as he had promised to carry out road construction work but didn’t get it executed, and allegedly got into a verbal spat with the associations after they arranged for funds.
“There were complaints against him but there was never any proof… as these complaints came from local leaders, it could not have been basis for taking action as it would have been seen as vendetta politics,” said a senior BJP leader.
The arrest drew a sharp response from the AAP, which termed it as the “feather in the crown of BJP’s corruption”.
Senior AAP leader and chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said: “For a very long time, AAP has been saying there is massive corruption in the building department of the BJP-ruled MCDs. When AAP alleged there is corruption running into crores in the building department, then the BJP-ruled MCD used to threaten us saying they will file defamation complaints…”
“AAP demands that the top BJP leadership should come clean about their knowledge on this kind of illegal transactions in the MCDs… If the BJP top leadership knows about such transactions, what kind of steps have they taken against their corrupt MCD councillors?” he said. “AAP wants to assure citizens that if anybody wants to complain against such matters, we will try to support them with every legal option.”
Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor said the BJP has zero tolerance towards corruption and has suspended Mehlawat: “We in Delhi BJP do not hesitate in taking action on corruption…”
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