The very day Somnath Bharti shot to limelight, he set himself up to become a synonym for embarrassment too. What else would be a suitable moniker for a man who made it to the headlines for conducting a midnight crackdown on women who he suspected of running a drug and prostitution racket. In fact, he led a mob, invited media persons, ignored the local police's protests simply because the women involved were of African origin.
When the rest of the world, including AAP's supporters, saw a clear facepalm moment for the AAP, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal promptly got Bharti's back and gave him a clean chit. Even after the women underwent medical tests which failed to find any trace of drug in their blood, Kejriwal defiantly declared in a jansabha, "Isn't a drug, prostitution and sex racket active in Khirki extension?"
Less than a year down, Kejriwal has finally resigned to the idea that Bharti, indeed, is an embarrassment.
However, one can't help wonder what took Kejriwal so long to finally admit that Bharti is on the wrong. Maybe, a man absconding with his co-accused dog in a case of domestic violence may have been finally compelling enough for the Delhi chief minister.
That doesn't change the fact that Kejriwal had turned a blind eye to the many allegations against him, for a considerably long time.
For example, even before the Khirkee Extension controversy could blow over, he scored yet another self goal by trying to differentiate between Indians and Africans, suggesting the latter was suspect. He had even asked them to leave the country, taccording to this Times of India report.
Kejriwal firmly stood his ground and supported Bharti in his actions.
Following that, Bharti had a run-in with the secretary of his ministry. The secretary had informed Bharti that the department had to follow protocol and arrange a meeting of district judges but Bharti tried to override him. It was then alleged that he had tried to influence a prosecution witness in a case.
He was accused of trying to shut down a 24-hour convenience store too last year.
Bharti, who was a law minister in Kejriwal's 49-day stint at the Delhi government the first time round, was dropped from ministerial positions in the next government. However, Arvind Kejriwal remained silent on his several escapades.
More recently, Bharti had commented that, "I am fully confident that if Delhi government is given full control (over security), beautiful women will be able to go out even after midnight without any fear." Later, he even tried to defend and explain the sexist remark.
For example, the domestic violence case was lodged against Bharti in June this year. Yet, a usually vocal and social media savvy AAP and Kejriwal remained eerily quiet on the issue. It didn't take action against Bharti, who continues to be a AAP member till date.
Only after Bharti pulled the vanishing act, that Kejriwal broke his silence. He didn't have any option either. Absconding is clearly a sign of guilt and Kejriwal can no more dismiss the obvious.
It was clear during the past tumultous year that AAP experienced, that Bharti was of the band of AAP leaders who neither questioned nor opposed Kejriwal's diktats. He stood behind Kejriwal during the very public fall-out between the AAP chief and former members Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan.
Perhaps, it is no longer convenient for Kejriwal to overlook Bharti's escapades. As long as it was, the CM didn't lose one opportunity to back his unwavering supporter.
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