The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) suffered a setback in Surat city of Gujarat as six of its corporators in the local civic body joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party functionary said on Saturday. These corporators joined the saffron party late Friday night in the presence of Gujarat Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi. In the February 2021 Surat Municipal Corporation elections, the AAP had put up an impressive show and emerged as the opposition party by winning 27 seats in the 120-member civic body. The BJP had won 93 seats, while the Congress had failed to open its account.
Five AAP corporators had joined the BJP in February 2022, but one of them had returned to the AAP fold. Now, with six more corporators joining the ruling party, the AAP's strength has come down to 17.
Speaking at their welcome ceremony, minister Sanghavi said, "AAP corporators resigned from their party and joined the BJP." He added that the true face of AAP is coming to light before the country today. "The way AAP leaders spared nothing to defame Gujarat and people of the state, corporators of AAP joined the BJP with a pledge to develop their respective wards," the minister told reporters. One of these six corporators, Ruta Kheni, said that she decided to join the BJP after getting influenced by the ideology of the saffron party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's style of functioning.
Its good performance in the Surat civic body elections in 2021 had boosted the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP's confidence ahead of the December 2022 Assembly elections. Although it contested all 182 Assembly seats, it managed to win only five, and not a single one in Surat.
Meanwhile, the state unit of the AAP alleged that its corporators were being lured as well as threatened into joining the BJP. In a video statement, AAP corporator Dipti Sakariya alleged that she was invited to the residence of a BJP minister in state capital Gandhinagar, where she was offered money to join the BJP. "I informed our general secretary Monoj Sorathiya about what was going on. Meanwhile, the matter came out in the open after AAP corporators joined the BJP. It is sad to see the manner in which the BJP is misleading them to join the party," she said. Another AAP corporator Rachna Hirpara said the BJP has been trying to make AAP corporators switch sides ever since they won the election. "Offers have been made to us ever since we won the election. BJP has been giving offers, and many corporators fell for it and took up to Rs 50 lakh to join the ruling party," she alleged.