Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in a bind. The string of adverse reactions and major criticism over the controversy surrounding its lawmaker Somnath Bharti has forced Delhi CM Arvind Kejirwal-founded AAP to take stock of the damage. Senior party leaders held a party’s national executive meet at Kejriwal’s residence even as Bharti, who is on the run, moved Supreme Court to stave off his imminent arrest. The apex court, however, decided to hear his plea on Monday next week. Significantly, the court has not given any direction regarding his arrest, leaving it on the Delhi police to proceed as per the procedures.
Somnath Bharti, the former Law minister in Delhi government, is facing serious criminal charges in a domestic violence case. Bharati’s wife Lipika Mitra had filed a complaint of domestic violence with Delhi Commission for Women on June 10 alleging that her husband had been abusing her since their marriage in 2010. She had also given a complaint to the police in this regard.
In a complaint lodged by his wife Lipika Mitra, Delhi Police has filed an FIR booking the Malviya Nagar MLA under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 498A (cruelty towards wife), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapon), 406 (criminal breach of trust), 313 read with 511 (attempt to cause miscarriage without woman’s consent), 420 (cheating) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
Earlier this week, Delhi High Court rejected his anticipatory bail plea, observing that the allegations against him were “very serious” and backed by “documentary proof”. In its order, the High Court bench had even noted Bharti’s behaviour as cruel and brutal.
Bharti has been on the run since then.
On the other hand, AAP held its National Executive meet, party’s second highest decision making body, to deliberate over the issue. It is also reliably learnt that the National Executive meet may also discuss his future in the party.
In an open snap at Somnath Bharti, Delhi CM and AAP convenor Kejriwal had gone on to extent of calling him an “embarrassment” to the party.
“Somnath should surrender. Why is he running away? Why is he so scared of going to jail? Now he is becoming embarrassment for party n his family… He should co-operate with police,” Kejriwal wrote on a micro-blogging site Twitter on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, several teams of Delhi police hit the ground running conducting raids across NCR at Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Gurgaon in order to arrest Somnath Bharti. Around eight persons were grilled, including his brother Loknath Bharti, by the police to place his whereabouts.
“The suspects questioned for several hours today include the legislator’s brother Loknath Bharti, whose name is also present in the complaint filed by Bharti’s wife Lipika Mitra, and Bharti’s private secretary… Apart from these, a few other employees in Somnath Bharti’s office and party workers from Malviya Nagar and Khirki Extension areas were questioned,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Southwest), Dependra Pathak.
The senior police officer added that around 12 people, including the eight called for questioning, were under police scanner for allegedly “harbouring” the MLA.
(With inputs from the PTI)