Just when you thought that Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was going off the political radar, the year-old party has returned to the scene albeit for nothing to do with politics. Mayank Gandhi, member of AAP and the face of party in Mumbai and Maharashtra has been involved in a shambolic incident. A FIR has been filed in Mumbai against him and five other people for molestation and sexual harassment. Mayank Gandhi, who is the head of AAP’s organisation in Maharashtra, was named in the chargesheet filed at Oshiwara Police Station in Mumbai on Friday evening. The victim is reportedly a 21-year-old girl and a resident of Andheri. The gang of six has been booked under Indian Penal Code Section 354 (A), 509, 506 and 114.
The incident will hit the image of AAP very hard. At a time when the party is quite vocal about voicing their opinions against the rise of violence against women, this FIR will only shame the party. After promising to remove corruption, if there was any other priority on AAP’s agenda, it was of women security. Lashing out at Sheila Dikshit-led Delhi government a year back, the party fought the Delhi Assembly Elections on the basis of curbing the rising violence against women.
Another AAP minister Somnath Bharati was involved in a controversial Khirki extension case, where he forced Afro-nationals to urinate in public so as to collect their samples. Arvind Kejriwal had defended his minister and said that it was Delhi’s police inaction that the case went wrong and the justice in the case wasn’t met.
This time, the story is a bit more serious. The national executive member of AAP has been named in the FIR. Will Arvind Kejriwal take action or will the matter be brushed aside saying, “FIR has been filed, law will take its own course.” Will the self-proclaimed messiah Ashutosh take up the matter? Or will party’s Maharashtra face and social activist Medha Patkar defend his party’s member? Earlier in the day, another senior leader of AAP Prashant Bhushan courted controversy when a case of perjury was filed against his name in the CBI director case.
AAP was formed to change the dynamics of politics in India. Their leaders blatantly said that we are here to change the existing political system in our country. Is this how they are going to change politics? On one hand they claim to be a political outfit different from others; on the other hand they find themselves in such controversial matters. How does this differentiate them from other political parties?
Whatever their agenda or motive maybe, but for tough times and questions await Arvind Kejriwal and his party members. A high-profile social activist-cum-politician involved in a case of sexual harassment is only going to harm the party’s image. Will Mayank Gandhi along with the five mentioned in the FIR will be charged or will the charges be unapproved of? Check out this space for further news.
With inputs from Aadil Ikram