Spring cleaning: AAP contemplates expelling three MLAs from party

New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) may take “strong action”, possibly culminating with their expulsion from the party, against three of its MLAs for “showing wrong documents, indulging in forgery and anti-party activities”.
Jitender Singh Tomar, Manoj Kumar and Pankaj Pushkar are the three lawmakers who could lose their assembly membership if a unanimous resolution is moved against the trio and the speaker accepts it.
“Our leadership is seriously considering to take the step to strengthen people’s confidence the fact that we are a party with a difference and have zero tolerance any kind of corruption and wrong doings. Two of the three persons have caused a severe dent in the party’s image,” a senior AAP functionary told Firstpost on condition of anonymity.
The leader said that “an official announcement in this regard may take place soon”.
Tomar is presently lodged in Tihar Jail on charges of submitting fake educational degrees. He also allegedly doctored a reply under the Right To Information (RTI) Act from a college in Uttar Pradesh to claim that he had completed his bachelor’s degree from there.
AAP backed its Tri Nagar legislator when he was arrested but as the police investigation progressed and the charges against him were found to be true, the party decided to dissociate itself from him. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal sought to absolve himself of blame by claiming that he was kept in the dark and shown the wrong documents.
The 49-year-old former minister allegedly submitted forged academic documents including mark sheets, a BSc degree, provisional documents and law degree to the Delhi Bar Council in 2010. He has also been dragged to court by a BJP leader who has accused him of lying in his election nomination papers.
Kondli MLA Manoj Kumar was arrested earlier this month in connection with a forgery case. Though his party accused the BJP of politics, the Delhi Police alleged in court that the AAP lawmaker had used forged documents to sell a plot of land that did not belong to him. Kumar has several cases of cheating and one of assault against him.
The AAP initially described the arrest as “vindictive”. The party claimed a year-old FIR was “dredged up” to apprehend the lawmaker. However, many senior leaders, including Delhi CM Kejriwal, are said to be “unhappy” with the turn of events.
The third legislator likely to face the axe is dissenting MLA Pankaj Pushkar. He backed expelled members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, Anand Kumar and Ajit Jha has been extremely vocal against the AAP leadership.
He recently questioned his party’s decision to spend public funds on advertisements. The Timarpur legislator accused Kejriwal of misleading people and going against their mandate.
“The party had spent around Rs 18 crore on each of its campaign, which included TV and news papers ads, public rallies and meetings and door-to-door campaigns, in the three months prior to the elections in 2013 and 2015. Now, what is the need to spend Rs 520 crore for our own promotion?” he had said.
He had also opposed the removal of Yadav, Bhushan, Kumar and Jha and had walked out of the highly tense National Council meeting where the decision was made. The MLA has been completely boycotted by the party and party volunteers no longer work with him.
With an aim to sideline him, the party has appointed an observer in his constituency to take over his work. The cell phone given to him by the party has been taken back.
However, the party’s woes regarding its MLAs being arrested may not be over just yet. On Friday evening, Surinder Singh, AAP’s MLA from the Delhi Cantonment constituency, became the third paty legislator to be arrested.
He was taken into custody for allegedly assaulting a New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) worker. On 4 August, Singh was booked for allegedly beating and manhandling the civic worker in the Tughlaq road area when a team of the civic body officials was doing a routine check and had apprehended an e-rickshaw driver to check his documents.