AAP’s protest gives them a national platform

New Delhi(dna): The Aam Aadmi Party’s three-day ultimatum to the Centre ended on Monday as the party workers, office-bearers and MLAs took to New Delhi’s streets to protest against BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje, Smriti Irani and Pankaja Munde. Union ministers Irani and Swaraj, Rajasthan CM Raje and Maharashtra Minister Munde are all currently embroiled in different controversies that have put the BJP in under an uncomfortable spotlight and drawn sharp criticisms from rival political parties.

For the Aam Aadmi Party, and their expertise in street protests, this provided the perfect opportunity to take on the NDA-led Centre on yet another front. Not only did they get to throw back many of the barbs they earned when their ministers got into trouble, but the Delhi-based party also gets to agitate on a larger platform on issues of national relevance.

Hundreds of party workers, led by Delhi unit convenor Dilip Pandey and State Secretary and MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj, marched from Jantar Mantar to the Parliament Monday morning, clashing belligerently with security forces on their way, leading to scuffles. They demanded the resignation of all four BJP leaders, Swaraj and Raje for being involved in the Lalit Modi controversy, Munde for the ‘chikki scam’, and Irani for allegedly faking educational qualifications.

It is that last issue that hits AAP closest to home. Only recently, their now former law minister Jitendra Singh Tomar was arrested for faking both his degrees, on the basis on which he was enrolled by the Bar Council of Delhi.

Since a Delhi court accepted a complaint against Irani, that accused her of discrepancies in educational documents filed at various points of time with the Election Commission, AAP has taken a high moral ground over the issue. After drawing fire from all parties over Tomar, they have turned the tables and asked for Irani to be sacked, just as Tomar quit swiftly after his arrest.

The party has also attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence, especially after the latter’s jabs at former PM Manmohan Singh staying quiet about the various scams that assailed UPA 2.

Monday, they got to use that much hated word “bhagoda”, that had plagued CM Arvind Kejriwal all during his Delhi election campaign, against the BJP. Speaking at the protest, party leader Dilip Pandey soundly denounced Raje and Swaraj for helping Lalit Modi, a bhagoda, fugitive from justice.

The Aam Aadmi Party-led government has been locked in a tussle with the Centre for weeks now, over the amount of power the Delhi government has. With such bitter recent history, for AAP the series of scams besieging the BJP have been a golden opportunity to land a few punches on their heavyweight opponent.