Days ahead of the Delhi municipal polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday expelled its Narela ward candidate Savita Khatri and cancelled her candidature for allegedly allowing sacked Aam Aadmi Party minister Sandeep Kumar to campaign for her.
Kumar, a former minister in the Arvind Kejriwal government, was sacked from the party last year over a sex tape purportedly featuring him.
BJP’s national vice president Vinay Sahastrabuddhe announced the party’s decision at a press conference at the Delhi BJP office, saying the party has taken a firm stand.
“There is no place in the BJP for the criminal elements of the Aam Aadmi Party against whom there is a serious allegation of rape and exploitation of women.
“The party will not tolerate any kind of association or connivance with any such element from the AAP,” he said.
The move comes a day after the party came under attack from the AAP for allegedly inviting Kumar to campaign for Khatri, who was fielded from Ward number 1 of Narela in north-west Delhi of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.
“There is no place in the party for such persons who may in any way associate with criminal elements,” Sahasrabuddhe said.
“Those who do not respect women and people who seek support of such persons, have no place in our party. Such persons never had a place and they will never have it (in the BJP),” he said.
BJP member Shazia Ilmi later said that the party had taken a moral stand.
“I left the party because of bad elements in the AAP, and our party (BJP) did the right thing today. Because of Kumar, Khatri had to pay,” she added.
The decision also comes in the wake of the AAP and the BJP sparring over the presence of Kumar during Khatri’s campaign.
AAP legislator Alka Lamba had on Monday hit out at the BJP for ‘inviting’ Kumar to campaign for its candidate.
‘The BJP has been defaming AAP by taking Kumar’s name on radio (commercials). Now, they are even using him in their campaign,’ she alleged on Twitter.
The BJP has denied the charge, saying Kumar was not invited by the party for campaigning and alleged that it was the AAP which had ‘hatched a conspiracy’ to defame the saffron party.
A video clip had recently surfaced purportedly showing Kumar slamming Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and extending his support to Khatri.
Incidentally, the BJP has fielded only fresh faces in the civic polls due on April 23.
Of the total 272 wards, NDMC and SDMC have 104 seats each while EDMC has 64.
Former AAP leader Sandeep Kumar. Photograph: PTI Photo