The party doesn’t want to give the BJP a handle to queer the pitch for it in East Delhi, from where Atishi, who is actually a Punjabi Rajput, will contest in 2019.
New Delhi: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member Atishi Marlena, who was declared the party’s East Delhi Lok Sabha candidate Monday, has dropped ‘Marlena’ from her Twitter handle and publicity material to dodge rumours that she is a Christian, sources told ThePrint.
@AtishiMarlena will now be @AtishiAAP on Twitter.
A party source told ThePrint that Atishi is from a Punjabi Rajput family. Her surname is a tribute to communist icons Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin.
According to the sources, the AAP never felt the need to address the issue in public before, but “times have changed”.
“Ever since she was appointed prabhari, a rumour began to be spread by political parties in the constituency, especially the BJP, that the AAP had given ticket to a Christian,” a senior party leader told ThePrint.
“The party gave it due thought and requested her to drop the Christian-sounding ‘Marlena’ from her publicity material,” the source added.
Atishi, who has previously served as an adviser to deputy chief minister and education minister Manish Sisodia, was declared the prabhari (in-charge) for the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat in June.
Another senior party leader told ThePrint, “The AAP is a Delhi-based party and we have high chances of winning in Delhi. The party did not want to compromise on it and hence decided to nip any rumour in the bud.”
The party’s official website still carries Atishi’s full name. “It will also be changed on the website very soon,” a source said, “Changing it on mediums that are more visible was a priority.”
The source added that even “small things mattered” as the party headed into the election season. “The BJP has a huge machinery. They have already started spreading the rumour that Atishi is a Christian. Once it gains momentum, it will be a gigantic task for the party to convince the voters that it’s not true,” the source said.
“In India, caste and religion matter a lot during polls. Ideally, it should not, but practically it does. If Atishi were Christian, it would neither have been a matter of shame nor a thing to hide. But the BJP wants people to believe she is Christian,” the source added.
The party has not yet asked Atishi to drop her name from official documents, the source said.