BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ relaunched to break AAP, says Delhi Minister


Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj on Thursday alleged that the BJP has launched ‘Operation Lotus’ to engineer defections within the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) by offering to its legislators money, Y-category security, and tickets for the Lok Sabha poll.

‘Operation Lotus’ is the term used by Opposition parties to describe what they call the poaching of their MLAs by the BJP to topple State governments.

The allegation by the Minister came a day after AAP’s lone Lok Sabha MP from Punjab, Sushil Kumar Rinku, switched sides and joined the BJP, along with party’s Jalandhar West MLA Sheetal Angural.

At least three AAP legislators from Punjab had on Wednesday claimed that they were offered money to join the BJP.

Mr. Bharadwaj told reporters that the ruling BJP at the Centre is using probe agencies to achieve its “nefarious designs”.

He alleged that the BJP floated its plan as soon as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the excise policy case which involves allegations that he solicited kickbacks in return for favours to certain liquor manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers.

‘Have evidence’

“A majority of AAP MLAs in Punjab said they have been getting calls and being offered money, Y-category security and tickets for the Lok Sabha poll by the BJP. This shows that the BJP is conducting Operation Lotus,” Mr. Bharadwaj said.

He claimed that party legislators from Punjab have also revealed the phone numbers from which they got the calls.

On claims by Sikhs For Justice chief Gurpatwant Singh Pannun that Mr. Kejriwal had met the banned group’s representatives in New York in 2014, Mr. Bharadwaj said it was “shameful” that the BJP and its “social media trolls” were taking a militant’s allegation as the “gospel truth”.

“This shows that the BJP is an anti-national party,” the AAP leader said.

He added that the Centre was rattled by the governments of the U.S. and Germany expressing concern over the “state of democracy in India” and calling for a fair trial for Mr. Kejriwal.

‘Concocting tales’

Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor dismissed Mr. Bharadwaj’s claims, saying that it was the party’s habit to “start concocting fascinating tales of Operation Lotus” when it faced allegations of corruption or when its leaders began joining other parties.

“The Delhi BJP has consistently stated that Operation Lotus is a concocted story of the Aam Aadmi Party, and if AAP leaders have any evidence against the BJP, they should make it public and file a police report,” he said.

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