AAP leader Somnath Bharti is an IIT post-graduate and a qualified lawyer too. In the past he has defended home schooled children in court and also the high profile Vikram Buddhi who was imprisoned in the US for writing against the then President George W Bush.
He stormed into politics by beating a sitting Minister and a former Mayor to enter the Delhi Assembly. He became Law Minister in the first Arvind Kejriwal ministry. Initially he got good press and his pro bono legal career was highlighted where Bharti claimed that he was in the PIL space for “those who are helpless, poor and illiterate”.
However, despite his earlier achievements, Bharti has by and large been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
A look at some of them…
1. Spamming: The Spamhaus Project is a 17-year-old company that goes after spammers worldwide. They put Bharti’s Magden Solutions on the Register of Known Spam Operations list and got him to pay damages and agree to behave in the future.
Reports also alleged that he promoted porn domains and was one of the top three spammers of India.
2. Tampering with evidence: A Patiala House Court judge had made the following observations in a corruption case, “The conduct of accused Pawan Kumar and his advocate (Somnath Bharti) is not only highly objectionable, unethical but also amounts to tampering with evidence.”
Higher courts refused to give Bharti relief and he was also issued a show-cause notice by the Bar Council of New Delhi.
3. Spouse harassment: This is currently why Somnath is in the news. His wife Lipika Bharti filed a case of domestic violence. Lipika claims that Bharti set his dog on her, slapped her, tried to strangle her and even harassed her when she was pregnant.
The police issued an arrest warrant and it is difficult to see how Somnath will get out of this one. In fact while denying bail the court observed that Somnath was “violent and outrageous” and he initially chose to run instead of surrender.
4. Revealing the identity of a rape survivor: In January 2014, a Danish tourist was gang-raped at gunpoint in Delhi. While she took a flight back to Denmark immediately after that, the case continues in Indian courts.
Bharti issued a press release on the incident and named the rape survivor when he was the Law Minister. That’s against the law and this wasn’t the only time that the Delhi Law Minister broke the law.
5. Harassing African women: This is his most high-profile one, the Khirki Extension raid. When residents complained about a drug and sex racket, instead of ordering an enquiry or following due procedure, Bharti led an AAP-vigilante mob and they did a midnight raid.
African women were humiliated and forced to undergo blood and urine tests and ironically the much maligned Delhi Police came to their aid and got good press. The blatant racism of the events of that night left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.
6. Alleging at the drop of a hat: When he first came under fire he surprised everyone by asking a journalist, “How much money were you paid by Modiji?” even though Narendra Modi (then Gujarat Chief Minister) had nothing to do with his problems.
Even when his wife filed a complaint he saw a BJP hand. Bharti has been going around alleging a BJP hand in almost everything without giving even an iota of evidence in his defence.
When being cornered instead of apologizing he made disgusting statements like that he would like to spit on the faces of (now Finance Minister) Arun Jaitley and senior advocate Harish Salve.
7. Being just another rotten politician: The Aam Aadmi Party came with major barbs against politicians and huge boasts about how they would be different. Now they have proved to be worse than the rest.
Somnath Bharti represents all that is wrong with the AAP. He has been proved guilty in courts, has used muscle power to operate and the Khirki raid wasn’t the only one. He did nothing good as Law Minister and has not benefited the city of New Delhi as a politician.
At the end of the day, Bharti is just another rotten politician.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here