Aam Aadmi Party’s charge of BJP’s East Delhi candidate Gautam Gambhir distributing pamphlets with “obscene and derogatory” remarks against his rival AAP candidate Atishi has led to a huge political controversy on Thursday.
Refuting the allegation, Gambhir sent defamation notices to AAP's East Delhi candidate Atishi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
Earlier, Gambhir refuted the allegation and challenged the AAP to produce proof of the charges levelled against him. He also said he will file a defamation case against AAP leaders.
“If they can get a proof, I'll resign right now and if they get a proof by 23rd, I'll resign on that particular day. But if Arvind Kejriwal does not get the proof, does he accept the challenge that he will leave politics forever on 23rd?” the cricketer-turned-politician said.
“I will definitely file a defamation case against them. You can't tarnish someone's image just like that, if you don't have the proof. I have never given a negative statement against anyone so far in my election campaigning,” he added.
The BJP, on its part, charged the AAP with stage managing such incidents.
Meanwhile, the returning officer of the East Delhi parliamentary constituency directed the police to "file an FIR" in connection with the case.
Earlier, Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal said the DCW has taken suo moto cognisance on media reports of the pamphlet.
“The pamphlets contain shameful, defamatory and sexist remarks against Ms. Atishi as well as the mother of Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Manish Sisodia. This act is a vicious attack on the character and reputation of a female candidate and clearly outrages the modesty of a woman,” Maliwal said in the letter to the DCP, East Delhi.
The commission has sought information from the police by Saturday over whether an FIR can be registered in the matter, whether the accused has been identified and arrested, and the status of the action taken by the police.
Atishi alleged the pamphlets containing derogatory remarks on her as well as her family were distributed by the BJP at housing complexes.
"I had welcomed Gambhir myself when he joined politics but I never imagined that he would stoop to this level in the Lok Sabha polls," Atishi said.
"I have only one question for Gautam Gambhir. If he is doing this against one woman, what about the lakhs of women in east Delhi who are worried about their safety," Atishi said.
Atishi, who was accompanied by Deputy Delhi Chief Minister Manish Sisodia during a press conference, broke down as she read out the pamphlet in front of reporters.
Gambhir, in a series of tweets, said he is "ashamed" to have a chief minister like Arvind Kejriwal and that he would withdraw his candidature if this charge is proved.
Sisodia alleged these pamphlets were kept in newspapers and distributed in apartment complexes.
The Delhi Chief Minister said he "never imagined Gautam Gambhir to stoop so low".
"How can women expect safety if people with such mentality are voted in? Atishi, stay strong. I can imagine how difficult it must be for u. It is precisely this kind of forces we have to fight against," Kejriwal tweeted.
Gambhir, in a tweet, said: "I abhor your act of outraging a woman's modesty Arvind Kejriwal and that too your own colleague. And all this for winning elections? U r filth Mr CM and someone needs ur very own jhaadu to clean ur dirty mind(sic)."
"My Challenge no.2 Arvind Kejriwal and Atishi. I declare that if its proven that I did it, I will withdraw my candidature right now. If not, will u quit politics?" he said in another tweet.
The BJP also refuted the allegation.
"The BJP has nothing to do with the alleged pamplets. AAP has no character and its notoriety about stage managing such things is well known. They can do anything like getting their leaders slapped and distribute scandalous pamplets to be in the race for Lok Sabha elections that they are badly losing," said Nvon Kumar, BJP media incharge, East Delhi.
(With PTI inputs)