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‘Liquor scam, bribes’ — how BJP’s Santhosh plotted ‘anti-graft’ MCD poll campaign against AAP

Santhosh feels graft allegations against AAP are sticking & party should focus on this point 'much more'. Another reason for using this strategy is to counter Kejriwal in Gujarat.

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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s persistent attacks on the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for alleged corruption is part of a well-calculated strategy crafted by the party’s national general secretary (organisation) B. L. Santhosh for the Delhi civic polls, ThePrint has learnt.

The Assembly elections in Gujarat, where the AAP is trying to upset the BJP’s apple cart, is another reason for this strategy, party sources said.

Santhosh, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) pointsman in the BJP, has told his party colleagues that the corruption charges against AAP leaders and the AAP-led government in Delhi were “sticking” and that the BJP should, therefore, focus on raking up these allegations in the run up to the civic elections, multiple BJP leaders told ThePrint.

Santhosh gave these instructions at a meeting on 5 November (followed by a core committee meeting on 14 November), which was attended by BJP’s Delhi in-charge Baijayant Panda, national secretary Sunil Deodhar and Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta, among others. BJP national president J. P. Nadda, meanwhile, chaired another meeting with party leaders on November 7.

While the meeting was in the context of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) election, cornering the AAP with corruption allegations is also expected to help the BJP in the Gujarat polls in which Kejriwal’s party is seeking to emerge as the BJP’s principal challenger.

Also Read: ‘Kejriwal, time to go’ — JP Nadda slams AAP over corruption charges, for ‘destroying’ Delhi 

‘Close contest this time’

According to a party source, the feedback that the central leadership has received is that the municipal elections are going to be a ‘close-contest’ and, hence, it has been chalking out different strategies to ensure it is able to beat the anti-incumbency of three terms.

After several brainstorming sessions over the past week, the BJP decided to hold press conferences every day on the issue of corruption and misgovernance by the AAP government.

“Santhosh ji reviewed the entire preparation and what all has been planned by Delhi unit and he pointed out that the issue of corruption seems to be sticking with the people and is creating a lot of buzz and, hence, the party should focus on this much more. More revelations related to corruption and misgovernance needs to be made on a daily basis so that people can understand how the AAP government really functions,” said a senior BJP leader.

The senior leader has been holding regular meetings with in-charges of various election committees to review the BJP’s poll campaigns and strategies for the MCD elections. There is likely to be a meeting on Wednesday again with him to discuss the last leg of the campaigning, said another party functionary.

For the past few days, the BJP’s Delhi unit has been ‘exposing’ how the AAP has indulged in corruption. For instance, on Monday, national spokesperson Sambit Patra accused the AAP of ‘bribe in exchange of tickets’. Similarly, the party on Friday accused AAP leader Mukesh Goel of allegedly demanding Rs 1 crore from a junior engineer of the MCD for giving gifts to party leaders.

BJP leaders are of the view that there is “no wave” in favour or against any party in the MCD elections and, hence, the party needs to be more aggressive and should focus on booth-level management to ensure more people who support the BJP turn up to vote.

The BJP’s main focus in the election is also the alleged liquor scam to blunt AAP’s anti-corruption plank, which the Kejriwal-led party seems to be highlighting in Gujarat as well.

“The liquor scam is only one of the major issues that we have been highlighting as the AAP that came to power on an anti-corruption agenda in reality is indulging in corruption. Apart from this, we will also keep up the pressure on AAP leaders, including Satyendar Jain who is an accused in a money laundering case,” said another leader.

The BJP has also been targeting Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia over alleged corruption charges related to the excise policy. In October, Sisodia appeared for questioning before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the excise policy case.

(Edited by V. S. Chandrasekar)

Also Read: Modi’s brainchild, BJP’s Pasmanda Muslim ‘experiment’ faces test in Delhi civic polls


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