Delhi: Jolt for AAP as Gandhi Nagar MLA Anil Bajpai joins BJP

Bajpai joined the saffron party in the presence of Union Minister Vijay Goyal in Delhi. (ANI)

In a fresh jolt to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party just days before Lok Sabha elections in Delhi, party MLA from Gandhi Nagar Anil Bajpai joined the BJP on Friday. Bajpai, who is the second lawmaker from AAP to join BJP, joined the saffron party in the presence of Union Minister Vijay Goyal in Delhi.

While political turncoats are common during the poll season, in this case, AAP’s prospects would take a hit in the national capital as it has already been struggling to stitch an alliance with the Congress.

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The move also comes at a time when AAP leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal, have accused the BJP of indulging in horse-trading. "I worked for the AAP for 15 years. I was hurt by lack of respect and peculiar type of functioning in the party. It has detracted from its original path," Bajpai said after joining BJP at its Delhi unit office.

On Wednesday, Sisodia alleged that the BJP offered Rs 10 crore each to seven AAP MLAs to switch sides, reports PTI.

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However, Bajpai denied taking money for joining the BJP and said Kejriwal is in the habit of making allegations and then tendering apologies.

Former Delhi BJP president and Union minister Goel Thursday claimed that not seven but 14 AAP MLAs were in touch with his party and wanted to quit AAP due to "frustration and humiliation".

Three other AAP leaders, Gaurav Sharma, Vandana Rani and Sanjay Jain, also joined the BJP along with Bajpai. Sharma and Rani had contested municipal polls in 2017 as AAP candidates.

Apart from this, sitting AAP MP from Punjab Harinder Singh Khalsa, who was suspended from the party, had joined the BJP in March.

The BJP has also got a unique ally in rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, who Thursday announced a week-long campaign to garner support for the BJP candidates on all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi.

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Lok Sabha polls in seven parliamentary constituencies in Delhi will be held on May 12.

This time, it is a three-cornered contest in Delhi. On the one hand, there is AAP which has made failed attempts to garner support from Congress to defeat BJP in Delhi. Congress, on the other hand, has not lent an ear to AAP’s concerns and has fielded its own candidates from all the seven seats. The third heavyweight in the contest, the BJP, is banking on some star campaigners while giving another chance to some of its MLAs.

-With PTI inputs