Indian politics reared its ugly head once again when on Wednesday Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate from East Delhi Lok Sabha seat Atishi Marlena broke down during a press conference while accusing BJP opponent Gautam Gambhir of distributing copies of a derogatory pamphlet against her.
Soon, the allegations turned into a big controversy as war broke out between BJP and AAP supporters on social media about the culprit behind the printing of such pamphlets. While AAP alleged that Gambhir has stooped to 'low levels' and resorted to 'cheap' tactics such as targeting women with misogynist and sexist remarks in a bid to win the election, BJP, instead, put the blame on AAP itself claiming that it was the former's own handiwork.
Even though, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) took suo motu cognisance of the matter and its chief Swati Maliwal directed a police inquiry in the case, Delhi chief minister and AAP president Arvind Kejriwal took to Twitter to attack Gambhir and BJP. “Never imagined Gautam Gambhir to stoop so low. How can women expect safety if people with such mentality are voted in? Atishi, stay strong. I can imagine how difficult it must be for you. It is precisely this kind of forces we have to fight against," he tweeted.
Sisodia too shared the pamphlet on Twitter and criticised Gambhir for "stooping so low". "Mr Gautam Gambhir! You want to be elected by distributing these handbills against me and Atishi? Shame on you Mr Gambhir! People of East Delhi know me and Atishi very well but through these handbills you have introduced yourself. This is your character," Sisodia wrote.
Former AAP member Yogendra Yadav also supported the party and Atishi and asked people to unite against such "slander campaign". Political differences apart, I know Atishi to be a model of integrity. We are fortunate to have people like her in public life... Guilty must be punished by EC and Delhi voters," he tweeted.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav also showed support to Atishi and told BJP that its "better to lose with dignity than to lose all dignity".
The letter circulated about @AtishiAAP is a new, distressing and disturbing low.
The BJP needs to realise that it's better to lose with dignity than to lose all dignity.
— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) May 9, 2019
Actress Swara Bhasker who also campaigned for Atishi in the Gandhi Nagar area on Wednesday also came out in her support and labeled the letter as a product of a "sick, perverted... bigoted mind". Bhasker hoped that Atishi wins the election despite the personal attack on her. Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, who had also campaigned for Atishi in Delhi, called out the perpetrators of the slander campaign against the AAP leader and asked Gambhir to take a moral stand against the act if he isn't a part of it himself.
Former IAS-turned-politician Shah Faesal responded to Gambhir's tweet pining the blame on Kejriwal and condemning his politics, saying that he was "ashamed to have admired a person who was neither Gautam nor Gambhir" referring to his ceased admiration for the former cricketer.
I am ashamed to have admired a person who is neither Gautam nor Gambhir but only a Chowkidar!
— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) May 9, 2019
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj, meanwhile, shared a video clipping of a BJP leader commenting on the controversy using the words mentioned in the pamphlet and going on to ask why hasn't Atishi's husband come to the forefront during her election campaign. "Nobody will ask where is Narendra Modi's wife," Bharadwaj questioned on the BJP member's rremarks.
Because Atishi is a woman, BJP men ask "पति कहाँ हैं उनके ?"
Because Modi is a man, no one will ask "पत्नी कहाँ हैं उनकी ?" https://t.co/YBFkgkJ95Y
— Saurabh Bharadwaj (@Saurabh_MLAgk) May 9, 2019
Whereas, former AAP crusader and BJP member, Shazia Ilmi alleged that AAP had used similar kinds of "dirty tricks" against her as well during earlier election campaigns and called out Atishi for her "backstabbing". "AAP's dirty tricks department at work. The same kind of filth was written about me by their trolls! Gautam Gambhir is a decent person. After using the caste card please don’t use the woman card! Atishi we can see through your tricks. Known you and your backstabbing a long time," Ilmi tweeted.
Gambhir's former teammate Harbhajan Singh also came out in his support and vouched that the sportsman is unlikely to disrespect a woman.
I am shocked to note yesterday’s events involving @GautamGambhir. I know him well and he can never talk ill for any woman. Whether he wins or loses is another matter but the man is above all this
— Harbhajan Turbanator (@harbhajan_singh) May 10, 2019
Meanwhile, Gambhir moved court against Kejriwal, Sisodia and Atishi with a defamation suit on Friday. "I condemn what has happened. I am from a family where I have been taught to respect women. I didn't know Arvind Kejriwal would stoop so low. I have filed a defamation case," he said. However, Sisodia responded to Gambhir saying that he has no remorse and instead is giving threats of a defamation suit. In wake of the latest development, Sisodia tweeted AAP too will file a defamation case against Gambhir for the derogatory campaign.
@GautamGambhir चोरी और सीनाज़ोरी? इस घिनोनी हरकत के लिए तुम्हें माफ़ी माँगनी चाहिए थी। और defamation की धमकी दे रहे हो? उलटा चोर कोतवाल को डाँटे? Defamation हम करेंगे- तेरी हिम्मत कैसे हुई ये पर्चा बाँटने की, और बेशर्मी से उसका झूठा इल्ज़ाम CM पर लगाने की.? https://t.co/sTVfpt3gvX — Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) May 10, 2019
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Updated Date: May 10, 2019 12:45:23 IST