New Delhi: Somnath Bharti, a lawyer-turned-politician who as Delhi law minister made national headlines for allegedly leading a group to attack African nationals living in a South Delhi locality in January 2014, looks set to score a hat-trick from his Malviya Nagar constituency.
According to the Election Commission website, he was ahead of BJP’s Shailendra Singh Moti by 6,534 votes at 2 pm.
Congress had fielded Neetu Verma from from Malviya Nagar.
Bharti served as the law minister in 2013 and 2014, during AAP’s 49-day tenure.
In 2013, he had defeated BJP’s Arti Mehra, former Delhi mayor, and Congress leader Kiran Walia. In 2015, he was pitted against Nandini Sharma of the BJP and comfortably won the seat.
Controversial first term
Somnath Bharti was unable to secure a place in the 2015 cabinet after his vigilante raid on Africans, when he had even accused them of running sex and drug rackets, was severely criticised.
Bharti is known for courting controversies. He was once booked for abusing a journalist. His wife had also alleged domestic violence and filed a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women.
However, Bharti has mellowed down over the past few years, which led to the AAP reposing faith in him once again and fielding him the third time from Malviya Nagar.
Under the New Delhi Parliamentary constituency, Malviya Nagar is surrounded by a number of unauthorised colonies, which are a poll issue this time. The BJP is seeking credit as the Narendra Modi government has regularised 1,700-odd colonies.
Highly active on social media, Bharti is quick to respond to political happenings of the day. He even questioned the delay by the Election Commission in declaring the final voter turnout after the 8 February election.
Focussing on the governance model of AAP, Bharti also raised issues like expansion of ‘mohalla network;, developing Malviya Nagar as a model constituency in all aspects and converging all parks in the area.