Delhi Lt Governor Backs Swati Maliwal, AAP Says It Proves Her BJP Link

AAP responded that Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena's letter has proved that Swati Maliwal is "working for the BJP".

Delhi Lt Governor Backs Swati Maliwal, AAP Says It Proves Her BJP Link

Lt Governor VK Saxena has questioned Arvind Kejriwal's silence in Swati Maliwal assault case

New Delhi:

Delhi's Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has come out in support of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Swati Maliwal, who is locked in a face-off with her party over an incident in which she was allegedly assaulted by a close aide of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at his residence. AAP responded that the Lieutenant Governor's letter has proved that Ms Maliwal is "working for the BJP". 

Mr Saxena, who has had frequent confrontations with the AAP government in the national capital over a host of issues, has said in a statement that he was "deeply distressed" over the unfolding media narrative on the issue.

"Yesterday, she (Ms Maliwal) called me out of sheer anguish, describing at length her traumatic experience, and the subsequent intimidation and shaming that she is being subjected to by her own colleagues. She also expressed concerns over reported tampering of evidence and coercion against her," the Lieutenant Governor said.

"Although Ms. Maliwal has been vociferous, hostile and blatantly partisan towards me and my office, often criticizing me unjustifiably, yet any physical violence and hounding perpetrated on her are inexcusable and unacceptable," he added in the statement.

The Lieutenant Governor said it is "most disturbing" to note that the alleged scene of crime was the Chief Minister's drawing room and he was at home. Referring to AAP MP Sanjay Singh's statement to the media days after the May 13 incident, Mr Saxena wrote, "Her fellow member of Rajya Sabha confirmed her narrative in full media glare, and assured that the CM would take firm action against the culprit - his aide. Subsequently, a total U turn was done in the matter, apparently at the behest of the highest functionary. This too is inexplicable and baffling."

"I would have expected that at least for the sake of propriety, my CM would have come clean, rather than being evasive and dodgy. His deafening silence speaks volumes of his stance on safety of women," the statement said.

Delhi, the Lieutenant Governor said, is the national capital and home to the entire diplomatic community from around the world. "Such shameful incidents and the insensitive and conspiratorial contemptuous government response, on an issue of women safety, tarnishes India's image worldwide. Had such an incident happened in any other Chief Minister's residence in the country, external forces with vested interests, inimical to India, would have unleashed a scathing global narrative around women safety in India. The absence of any outrage in this case leaves several questions unanswered," he said, adding, "Delhi Police is investigating the matter and I assure that the matter will be brought to its logical conclusion."

Responding to the Lieutenant Governor's strong statement, AAP said his letter "proves that Swati Maliwal is working for the BJP". "With the elections on, the BJP is bringing a new conspiracy daily, from liquor scam to Swati Maliwal to foreign funding. The BJP is losing badly, so they are trying to revive their prospects by using the Swati Maliwal issue."

Ms Maliwal, a Rajya Sabha member and former chief of Delhi Commission for Women, has alleged that Bibhav Kumar, Mr Kejriwal's long-time aide and his former personal secretary, assaulted her during an altercation when she went to meet the Chief Minister on May 13 at his residence. An FIR has been filed, and Bibhav Kumar has been arrested.

The AAP, which had earlier said Mr Kejriwal has directed strict action against his aide, later alleged that the BJP is trying to include Ms Maliwal in a conspiracy. "The anti-corruption bureau of the BJP has filed a case against Swati Maliwal regarding the illegal recruitment of contractual employees in DCW. A charge sheet has been filed and the time of conviction is coming, we believe that Swati Maliwal is being included in the conspiracy by using this case," Delhi minister Atishi said.

The Delhi Chief Minister on Sunday led a protest march to the BJP headquarters and alleged that Bibhav Kumar's arrest was part of BJP's 'Operation Jhadoo' to crush AAP by jailing its leaders. He did not directly remark on Ms Maliwal's allegations. Hitting back, the BJP said the AAP leader did not hit the streets for his jailed colleagues Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, but was doing so for his aide accused of assaulting a woman MP from his party.