AAP MLA indicates he may join BJP, later denies; party calls it ‘rumour’

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After newly elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Visavadar constituency Bhupendra Bhayani indicated on Sunday that he might join the BJP, speculations were rife that all five AAP MLAs would join the saffron party. However, calling it a “rumour”, AAP MLA from Jamjodhpur, Hemant Ahir, and party general secretary Manoj Sorathiya said that none of them was going to join the BJP.

The party also released a video in the evening in which Bhayani was seen saying that he “is a loyal soldier of the AAP”.

“It is a rumour… we are not going to join (BJP). Three days ago, we were speaking against the BJP and would we join it now? It would raise a question mark on our political career… Some people spread the rumours in collusion with the BJP… It is false,” Ahir told The Indian Express.

In the recently concluded Gujarat Assembly elections, five AAP candidates won —Bhupendra Bhayani (Visavadar), Umesh Makwana (Botad), Hemant Ahir (Jamjodhpur), Sudhir Vaghani (Gariadhar) and Chaitar Vasava (Dediapada).

“All this is false. Our MLAs have been approached by the BJP and there is a lot of pressure, and they are being bribed… We have talked to all our MLAs, they will not go,” said Sorathiya.

The “rumours” started doing the rounds Sunday afternoon after Bhayani addressed reporters in Gandhinagar where replying to a question if he would join the BJP, Bhayani said, “Not at all… I will meet my people, my workers, janta… And a decision, which all of us find proper, will be communicated to you (media).”

When pointed out this statement from Bhayani, Ahir said, “We do not have to ask anyone. Our supporters have been saying ‘No’ (to join BJP).”

Another AAP MLA Vaghani said, “I do not know about the others, but I am definitely not joining the BJP…”

Bhayani, Makwana and Vasava could not be contacted for a comment despite repeated attempts.

Later, in an interview to NDTV, Bhayani said, “The people of Gujarat have given such a mammoth mandate to (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi, Bhupendra Patel and CR Paatil… after independence no party has got these many seats. I respect this with all my heart.”

Adding that his constituency belongs to the farmers, he said, “I have to solve the biggest issue of irrigation there… if I don’t connect with the government, I will not be able to do these things… I will ask my people, my (party) workers too, and after discussion, taking everyone along, I will declare my decision in a day or two.”

“Even Congress does not have the strength to sit in opposition. And AAP has just got five seats. If I have to do something for my people, I have to think… I have not talked to the BJP… just sent a message, and they have also sent a message… I was in BJP before, so my relations are better with its leaders…,” he added.

On whether he fears the anti-defection law, Bhayani said, “Not at all… I have just been chosen and have not taken the oath yet… if anti-defection is applied even before taking the oath… for my farmers, kuch paane ke liye kuch khona toh padega (to get something, one has to lose something)…”

When asked if the other four AAP MLAs, too, would join the BJP, Bhayani said, “I don’t know all that. No one is in my contact…”

To a question if the people who elected him as AAP candidate would mind if he joins the BJP, Bhayani said, “They have voted BJP with a mammoth majority. So they will not mind. People voted for me because of my work (when I was with BJP)…”

On AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s statement indicating that “AAP MLAs will not be sold”, Bhayani said, “I have not gone (to the BJP) yet. I want to do something for my farmers, for my people… I might also have some compulsions.”

Adding that he cannot work for his people being with the AAP, he said, “We cannot even sit in the opposition… Welfare of the people can happen only if we keep connection with the government.”

In the video released by the AAP late in the evening, Bhayani was seen saying, “I want to make it clear that I am a loyal solider of AAP. When people have given me lots of support, love and affection, I have never thought even in my dream to betray the people or the party… I am not going to join any party… I will work for AAP as its loyal soldier in coming days… I am going to work aggressively for the farmers of Saurashtra…”

AAP MLA Umesh Makwana went live on Facebook saying, “The five MLAs of the AAP are Pandavas. There are rumours going on that Bhayani will join BJP, or Makwana will join BJP, or Sudhir will join… All are false… will not let down the trust of the people…”

While BJP office-bearers remained tight-lipped on the development, party sources did not rule out the possibility of at least three AAP MLAs joining them.



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