Gujarat’s topcop Sanjiv Bhatt, who was suspended for taking up cudgels against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, may not join the Aam Admi Party (AAP), which has begun to attract influential sections of civil society in India and Gujarat. Taking part in an internal discussion in Ahmedabad, Bhatt told a senior AAP activist that there is still “no clarity” in AAP’s ideological leanings, especially on issues of secularism and communal riots. “I have yet to hear AAP taking a stance on the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar, though they took place after the party was formed. It uttered no word about it during the Delhi elections”, he said.
“The difference between the BJP and the AAP remains blurred – while the BJP follows gutter politics, the AAP has still not come out of its extremely commonplace paan-galla politics”, Bhatt, who was rumoured to have joined AAP for quite some time, declared. While recognizing that the fledgling Gujarat unit of AAP, led by social activist Sukhdev Patel, was clearly “anti-Modi”, Bhatt said, “The party’s Central leaders give no such clue.”
Taking on Kumar Vishwas, who has declared himself as AAP’s candidate against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi at Amethi, Bhatt said, “He has praised Modi in past. There is still no word from him on Modi’s role in communal riots.” Bhatt also said that AAP’s most important leader, Arvind Kejriwal, himself has not criticized Modi after the latter was declared the BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. “While we know the views of other AAP leaders, Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, Kejriwal remains silent on contentious issues.”
Kejriwal said, “I know Kejriwal personally. I handed over to him all the facts on Modi’s corruption. It took him three months to address a press conference on December 4, 2012, ahead of the Gujarat state assembly polls, saying that “if Congress is Mukesh Ambani’s dukaan, then is Modi government Adani’s dukaan”. He informed the meeting, which took place at a guest house in the centre of the city that not only Kejriwal “sat” on the facts he had handed over to Kejriwal for three long months.
“At the fag-end of the press conference, Kejriwal was asked who gave him facts. His answer surprised me. He named me, but added, he was surprised why I did not hand over facts to the Congress, on whose ticket my wife, Shweta, was fighting polls against Narendra Modi from Maninagar”, Bhatt said, adding, “It is also not clear who is AAP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. Kejriwal does not seem to be keen to be announced one, despite pressures on him.”
During the meeting, it was pointed out that there was “enough evidence” to suggest Kerjiwal does not want to take up a stance on communalism. “Before addressing a TV interview, had sent a chit where he said no questions should be addressed on communalism. The interview did take place, and the moment the interviewer shot questions on Muzaffarnagar riots, Kejriwal cut it short and walked out”, it was pointed out.
Bhatt’s reservations on AAP have come to light in less than a week after top danseuse Mallika Sarabhai’s similar views on AAP’s Kumar Vishwas. Sarabhai, who has just joined AAP, kicked up a row by criticizing Vishwas for praising Modi. Taking on Vishwas on multiple fronts, Sarabhai sought clarification from Vishwas over latter’s glorifying remarks on the Gujarat CM in which he had been compared to a Hindu deity by the poet-turned-politician. “He compared Modi to Shivji, I want to know was it a paid performance.”
She added, “His attitude towards women, homosexuals and minorities is very problematic,” Sarabhai said, adding, “He comes across as sexist and antigay, and has an anti-minority point of view, and at the same time praises Narendra Modi.” At the same time, she added, AAP is the “most positive thing to happen in many decades and takes democracy back to the people.” He comments came even as senior AAP leaders in Gujarat said they also wanted “clarification” from the Central leaders on what they think of Vishwas. “There is already a huge criticism of Vishwas on AAP’s Facebook page”, a senior activist said.