Atishi Marlena
File photo of Atishi Marlena | Commons
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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.

Also read: Is Kejriwal a true politician or unthinking dictator? The question that’s splitting AAP

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“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.”

Also read: Arvind Kejriwal not the reason I quit Aam Aadmi Party, says Ashish Khetan

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.

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13 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Shame on AAP! If indeed they are secular, they should stand up for it. Are they trying to say that to have a Hindu sounding name is okay but not a Christian sounding name? Non-secular parties are able to stand up for what they believe.

  2. I wish this did not happen. But I appreciate the tact of the AAP leadership, in case this dropping of suffix is a fact. The AAP is facing a powerful enemy. A monstrous enemy with enormous resources and popular support. The AAP will have to make some minor changes in its strategy to fight the BJP , without compromising on its core ideology. This decision of the AAP may make people question its ‘political correctness’ – but in the long run such tactics are going to pay off. By dropping the Christian like title secularism does not come under threat. The decision is part of the larger battle against communalism.

  3. If true, this does not bode well for our much flaunted secularism. We are clearly rushing towards a catastrophic end where fear will pave our path and compel us to succumb to self-annihilating decisions.

  4. If true, this does not bode well for our much flaunted secularism. We are clearly rushing towards a catastrophic end where fear will pave our path and compel us to succumb to self-annihilating decisions.

  5. मुझे भी लगता था कि वो ईसाई होंगी। उन्होंने हमेशा मुझे प्रभावित किया।

  6. Wow, I am shocked. So, this means, if she was Christian then she couldn’t serve the country? Perhaps she should also grow her hair so that she looks less queer? God forbid that she is queer and BJP uses that!? Bowing down to base politics….is that how AAP plans to work? May be they should hire an actor who fills out all the ‘right’ expectations and ideals to run for political office. Hell, hire someone from Bollywood. Real people are not needed.


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