The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s dramatic allegation that the BJP had kidnapped one of its Gujarat election candidates took a strange turn this evening as the “missing” leader lashed out at his own party in a video.
Hours after AAP alleged that Kanchan Jariwala, its candidate for Surat (East), was “kidnapped” and forced at gunpoint to drop out of next month’s Gujarat polls, he asserted that he had chosen not to represent a party that is “anti-national” and “anti-Gujarat”.
“People used to ask me during my campaign why I became a candidate of an anti-national and anti-Gujarat party. I listened to my inner voice. I withdrew my nomination without any pressure. I can’t support such a party,” Kanchan Jariwala said in the video.
The video surfaced shortly after AAP leaders met with the Election Commission to complain about the “kidnapping” and to demand that the election at Surat (East) be cancelled.
Senior AAP leader Manish Sisodia said the MLA was kidnapped yesterday, dragged to the election office by 500 policemen and forced to withdraw his nomination at gunpoint before being whisked away to an “undisclosed location”.
Mr Jariwala and his family could not be reached, and his house was locked, he said.
“There is pressure on him to withdraw his nomination. He has been forced to sit in the poll office and is being pressured by policemen. I want to tell the Election commission that this is an open threat to democracy,” Mr Sisodia alleged.
Flagging his allegations to the Election Commission, he tweeted: “A candidate was kidnapped. They got him to withdraw his nomination at gunpoint. What can be a bigger emergency for the Election Commission?”
Another AAP leader, Raghav Chaddha, posted a video of what he called Mr Jariwala being “dragged” and forced to withdraw his nomination by the police and the BJP.
“Watch how police and BJP goons together – dragged our Surat East candidate Kanchan Jariwala to the RO office, forcing him to withdraw his nomination The term ‘free and fair election’ has become a joke!” he tweeted.
Mr Sisodia said the BJP feared losing in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, and had therefore resorted to kidnapping an AAP candidate.
“This is dangerous. This is the kidnapping of democracy, not just a candidate,” he alleged.
Several AAP leaders tweeted the allegations.
“Our candidate from Surat (East), Kanchan Jariwala, and his family missing since yesterday. First, BJP tried to get his nomination rejected. But his nomination was accepted. Later, he was being pressurised to withdraw his nomination. Has he been kidnapped?” tweeted Arvind Kejriwal.
The BJP, in power in Gujarat for 27 years, faces an aggressive campaign by AAP, which has turned the traditional BJP versus Congress rivalry in the state into a triangular contest.
Gujarat votes on December 1 and 5 for a new government. The results will be declared on December 8.
AAP raised the kidnapping charge in Gujarat on the same day the BJP accused the party of links to a bribe-for-tickets scandal ahead of the Delhi civic polls.
Three men, including a relative and a personal assistant of AAP MLA Akhilesh Pati Tripathi, were arrested yesterday for allegedly taking lakhs from a party worker who wanted to be a civic poll candidate. Another AAP MLA, Rajesh Gupta, has also been named, and the Delhi Police claim to have audio and video proof.
The BJP said the case has “exposed the AAP’s true face yet again”.