A lawyer-turned-politician, Somnath Bharti is one of the leaders who have been with the Aam Aadmi Party since the start. An IIT Delhi alumnus, Bharti will be looking to score a hattrick win from Malviya Nagar Assembly constituency. He is known as an approachable and hard-working leader in his constituency, albeit his short political career is haunted by several controversies and allegations.
During his first stint as MLA, Bharti faced allegations of vigilantism and taking law in his own hands after he lead a group of people to raid homes of African nationals, after receiving complaints of an alleged drug cartel being run by those people. In a chargesheet in September 2014, the Delhi Police said "nine African women were victims of molestation and manhandling by a mob led by then Law Minister Bharti."
Bharti was at the centre of another row in the 2000s, when he was running an when an IT company, which as per media reports, operated in the "grey zone" and was allegedly unethical. Bharti's name is linked to a company which allegedly spammed websites and extorted money for directory services. However, he has denied any wrongdoing and blamed an associate for the dodgy business.
A native of Bihar's Nawada district, Bharti completed his MSc from IIT Delhi, and pursued law from University of Delhi. He then practised at the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court, before entering public life during the Jan Lokpal movement. He is also a founding member of the Aam Aadmi Party.
In 2013, he was elected to the Delhi Assembly from Malviya Nagar Assembly constituency, defeating Arti Mehra of the BJP by a margin of over 7,000 votes. In the next election, he improved his margin of victory, defeating Nandini Sharma of the BJP by nearly 16,000 votes.
Between 2013 and 2014, during chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s 49-day tenure, Bharti served as the law minister. However, he gained notoriety in January 2014, after the episode of alleged vigilantism against Africans
Bharti’s trouble have continued during his second term as legislator too. In 2018, he was booked for abusing a journalist during a TV debate. The journalist accused Bharti of insulting her, claiming that the former minister had told her to become a prostitute. Bharti has also been accused of perpetrating domestic violence against his wife. In June 2015, his wife, Lipika, had filed a complaint with the Delhi Commission for Women for allegedly subjecting her to domestic violence and trying to kill her.
Meanwhile, despite the steady stream of controversies, Bharti's party has decided to repose faith in him. AAP party has fielded him for the third consecutive time from Malviya Nagar constituency, and he is considered the strongest contender from the seat.
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Updated Date: Feb 11, 2020 12:09:13 IST