Kumar-Khatri row: BJP sacks candidate for MCD polls
Days ahead of Delhi's municipal polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday expelled its Narela ward candidate, Savita Khatri, for allegedly allowing sacked Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) minister Sandeep Kumar to campaign for her.
Kumar was dropped by his party last year after the emergence of a sex tape that purportedly featured him.
"There is no place in the BJP for criminal elements from the Aam Aadmi Party against whom there are serious allegations of rape and exploitation of women," BJP's national vice president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe told reporters. "There is no place in the party for such people who may in any way associate with criminal elements," he said.
He added that Khatri's candidature had been cancelled by the party.
The expulsion came a day after AAP legislator Alka Lamba hit out at the BJP for "inviting" Kumar to campaign for Khatri, who was fielded by the BJP from Narela's Ward number in north-west Delhi.
"The BJP has been defaming AAP by taking Kumar's name on radio (commercials). Now they are even using him in their campaign," she alleged on Twitter.
The BJP denied the charge, saying Kumar was not invited by the party and alleged that it was the AAP which had "hatched a conspiracy" to defame the saffron party.
A video clip had recently surfaced purportedly showing Kumar slamming Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and extending support to Khatri.
BJP member Shazia Ilmi later said her party had taken a "moral" stand.
"I left the party because of bad elements in the AAP, and our party did the right thing today. Because of Kumar, Khatri had to pay," she added.
For the BJP, the Khatri-Kumar controversy just five days before the poll, to be held on April 23, can be embarrassing because the party has been focusing on the clean images of its candidates – all of whom are new faces.
Many of its members in the MCD, which the BJP has been ruling for the last 10 years, have been accused of corruption and poor waste management by the opposition parties, especially the Congress and the AAP.
It was largely to counter these charges along with large-scale "anti-incumbency" sentiments that the Delhi BJP in this election decided not to field any of its earlier members.
The party claimed the move was taken to give an opportunity to younger people.
Delhi has a total of 272 municipal wards, spread across three corporations. The BJP has 153 sitting councillors.
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