'40 MLAs were targeted by BJP with offer of Rs 20 crore each': AAP hits out at BJP

Seven MLAs were out of the station while minister Satyendar Jain is in jail, said Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj.

Published: 25th August 2022 11:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2022 01:06 PM   |  A+A-

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Sanjay Singh and other party leaders during a press conference in New Delhi. (Photo | PTI)

By Online Desk

NEW DELHI: The AAP alleged on Thursday that 40 of its Delhi MLAs were targeted by the BJP with an offer of Rs 20 crore each to switch sides, even as all the 62 of its legislators were accounted for during a meeting at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's residence.

The meeting that concluded within minutes was physically attended by 53 MLAs, including Kejriwal.

Seven MLAs were out of the station while minister Satyendar Jain is in jail, said Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj.

Okhla MLA Amanatullah Khan had joined the meeting over the phone, he added.

All the AAP MLAs, led by Kejriwal, reached Mahatma Gandhi's memorial Rajghat after the meeting to pray for the failure of the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) "Operation Lotus".

Ahead of the meeting, sources in the AAP had claimed that 12 MLAs were incommunicado for a couple of days while hoping that they would join Thursday's deliberations at Kejriwal's residence.

Bhardwaj said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) should probe from where the BJP got Rs 800 to "poach" AAP MLAs.

"Twelve AAP MLAs were contacted by the BJP to switch sides. The MLAs have, however, said they are with the AAP. The BJP was targeting 40 AAP MLAs with an offer of Rs 20 crore each to switch sides," Bhardwaj alleged.

BJP leaders have dismissed the AAP's "poaching" claim, terming it a "public stunt" by the Kejriwal-led party.

BJP MP Manoj Tiwari said the AAP is trying to divert people's attention and questioned Kejriwal's "silence" over the Delhi excise policy.

Four AAP MLAs who had claimed on Wednesday that they were approached by BJP leaders with an offer to switch sides said they were told that the saffron party was in touch with "20-25 MLAs" of the Kejriwal-led party.

ALSO READ | EXPLAINED | How the controversy over the Delhi Liquor Policy unfolded

The AAP government has also convened a special session of the Delhi Assembly on Friday over CBI, ED probes, raids targeting its ministers and the "poaching" efforts made by the BJP.

The saffron party has challenged the AAP to reveal the names of those who allegedly contacted its MLAs with an offer to switch sides and charged that the Kejriwal-led party is trying hard to divert attention from the Delhi government's liquor "scam".

Four AAP MLAs who had claimed on Wednesday that they were approached by BJP leaders with an offer to switch sides said they were told that the saffron party was in touch with "20-25 MLAs" of the Kejriwal-led party.

The AAP government has also convened a special session of the Delhi Assembly on Friday over CBI, ED probes, raids targeting its ministers and the "poaching" efforts made by the BJP.

The saffron party has challenged the AAP to reveal the names of those who allegedly contacted its MLAs with an offer to switch sides and charged that the Kejriwal-led party is trying hard to divert attention from the Delhi government's liquor "scam".

Four AAP MLAs who had claimed on Wednesday that they were approached by BJP leaders with an offer to switch sides said they were told that the saffron party was in touch with "20-25 MLAs" of the Kejriwal-led party.

The AAP government has also convened a special session of the Delhi Assembly on Friday over CBI, ED probes, raids targeting its ministers and the "poaching" efforts made by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP has challenged the AAP to reveal the names of those who allegedly contacted its MLAs with an offer to switch sides and charged that the Kejriwal-led party is trying hard to divert attention from the Delhi government's liquor "scam".

ALSO READ | Excise policy: Delhi govt gave licenses to firms that paid 'hefty commissions' to AAP, claims BJP 

The Congress also slammed the AAP government for alleged irregularities in the Delhi excise policy, and hit out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia, saying both of them should get Bharat Ratna if there is a new category for corruption.

Kejriwal termed his party legislators' claim a "very serious matter" and convened a meeting of the AAP's 11-member political affairs committee (PAC), which condemned the BJP's efforts to topple the Delhi government.

The meeting of the AAP's highest decision-making body, chaired by Kejriwal, noted that the BJP has "offered" crores of rupees to poach other parties' MLAs and demanded that the saffron party disclose the sources of the money that it has been spending to topple other parties' governments in various states since it came to power at the Centre in 2014.

In a resolution passed at the meeting, the AAP also appealed to the prime minister to spend his time "addressing people's problems like price rise and unemployment", instead of making efforts to bring down other parties' governments in the country.

The AAP assured the people of Delhi that its government is "stable" in the national capital, asserting that none of its MLAs will join the BJP.

A fresh face-off between the Kejriwal-led party and the BJP intensified after the AAP's national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh said his party's MLAs -- Ajay Dutt, Sanjeev Jha, Somnath Bharati and Kuldeep Kumar -- have been approached by leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with whom they have "friendly relations".

"They (the four AAP legislators) have been offered Rs 20 crore each if they join the BJP and Rs 25 crore if they bring other MLAs along with them," the AAP MP said.

“They (BJP leaders) told our MLAs that if they do not accept the offer and join the BJP, they will also have to face false cases, the CBI and the ED like (Delhi Deputy Chief Minister) Manish Sisodia is facing," he added.

Singh accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making efforts to bring AAP legislators into the BJP-fold "by hook or by crook" and topple the Kejriwal government.

"Modiji is trying to make AAP MLAs break away from the party and topple the Delhi government by misusing probe agencies, sending his people to offer money to them and threaten them of consequences if they do not switch sides," he said.

At the press conference, party legislators claimed that the BJP leaders also told them that the saffron party is in touch with "20-25 other MLAs" of the AAP in this connection.

"Shame on you Modiji," Singh said and asked the prime minister to "stop" making such efforts and focus on addressing issues like price rise and unemployment that the country is facing.

The AAP, however, refused to disclose the names of the BJP leaders who had approached its MLAs.

"It's a long battle between AAP and BJP," AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said, adding "Lord Ram used brahmastra when it was required. I assure you that we will definitely use brahmhastra where it is needed."

In Hinduism, the brahmastra is referred to as the most powerful and destructive weapon.

Addressing a press conference, the BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that the Delhi government ignored recommendations of an expert panel set up to reform liquor trade in the capital and gave licences to companies that paid "hefty commissions" to the AAP.

"They may have got such offers from liquor mafia. Why do not they tell the names of the people who approached them?" Patra hit back at the AAP's claim that the saffron party leaders approached four of its legislators offering them hefty money for switching sides.

ALSO READ | Delhi Excise Policy row: AAP passes resolution condemning misuse of probe agencies

AAP MP Sanjay Singh said Kejriwal has called a meeting of all Delhi MLAs at his residence on Thursday to decide the party's future strategy.

"The political affairs committee held an extensive discussion on the current developments and passed a resolution condemning the BJP's efforts to topple the Delhi government," he told reporters after the party's meeting.

He said that the meeting also condemned the toppling of the other parties' governments in various states by the BJP since 2014 and demanded that it disclose the sources of the money being used in poaching MLAs of other parties for such purpose.

"BJP is offering crores of rupees to other parties' MLAs, people want to know the source of this money that they have accumulated," he said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Assembly issued a notification for holding a special session.

The assembly session is scheduled to be held from 11 am on August 26, according to a document issued by the Delhi Assembly on Wednesday.

(With PTI Inputs)



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