New Delhi: Ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections, Congress leader and former MLA Ram Singh Netaji and three others on Monday joined the Aam Aadmi Part (AAP) in the presence of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Vinay Kumar Mishra, who is the son of former Congress MP Mahabal Mishra and unsuccessfully contested from the Palam Assembly seat, also joined the AAP. Councillor and social worker Jai Bhagwan Upkar from Rohini ward of Bawana Assembly and Naveen Dipu Chaudhary, a social activist working in the Gandhinagar area who has been associated with the Congress for a long time, too joined the AAP.
Netaji said he was impressed by the work done by the AAP government and "that is the reason I decided to leave Congress". He won from the Badarpur Assembly constituency twice — once as a BSP candidate and second time as an Independent after which he joined the Congress.
Rajkumari Dhillon, former Congress councillor from Hari Nagar ward, also joined the AAP.
Kejriwal said influenced by the policies of the party and the work of the AAP-led Delhi government, they are "joining our family". "They are warmly welcomed in the AAP," he said.
The joining of prominent leaders comes ahead of polls early next month. Even though Mishra and Netaji both said that they have come to the party with an intention to work, sources said the AAP might field Mishra from Dwarka and Netaji from Badarpur.
"There used to be only two major political parties in Delhi, the BJP and the Congress. People were fed up with the politics of both these parties because they did not deliver on promises made and having no other choice, voted them alternatively. But then five years ago, the people of Delhi initiated a new phase of self determination in politics and set an example for the rest of India - when a fledgling party, comprising common people, offered hope and managed to win 67 out of the 70 seats in the Delhi assembly, almost reducing existing political powers, to a naught," Kejriwal said.
He said leap of faith has turned out to be the best decision that Delhi ever made.
"Whether a supporter of the BJP, the Congress or any other party, AAP has gained a place for itself, in every heart because of its sincerity and intent of being in politics. AAP has managed to touch and transform their lives with the work it has done and this time they will vote for AAP, irrespective of personal party affiliation," he said.
However, hours after Netaji joined AAP, party MLA from Badarpur ND Sharma sat on a protest inside Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia's residence over his induction.
"We joined AAP for clean politics but what is the difference between you and other political parties now. I won with 94,000 votes and he (Netaji) for 17,000 votes but he was inducted into the party just like that. The hard work of the volunteers were ignored," Sharma said. Sharma was accompanied by his supporters who raised slogans in favour of him.
Elections to the 70-member Delhi Assembly will be held on 8 February.