'Operation Lotus' Underway In Punjab: Saurabh Bharadwaj

'Operation Lotus' is the term used by opposition parties to describe what they call "poaching" of MLAs by the BJP to topple governments.

'Operation Lotus' has started in Punjab, says Saurabh Bharadwaj

'Operation Lotus' has started in Punjab, senior AAP leader Saurabh Bharadwaj alleged on Thursday, a day after the party's lone Lok Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Rinku joined the BJP.

'Operation Lotus' is the term used by opposition parties to describe what they call "poaching" of MLAs by the BJP to topple governments.

Addressing a press conference here, Bharadwaj said AAP MLAs in Punjab had said on Wednesday that the majority of them were getting calls and being offered money, Y category security and tickets for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls to join the BJP.

"The BJP is conducting 'Operation Lotus'," he said.

Bharadwaj also questioned Rinku's decision to join the BJP.

"The BJP stood fourth in (the 2022) Punjab (assembly elections) after AAP, Shriomani Akali Dal and Congress. The question is why did Rinku join the BJP. His tenure as Lok Sabha MP has also ended. The BJP will also come fourth in the Jalandhar Lok Sabha polls," he said.

Rinku, who had been named as the AAP's candidate from Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat, joined the BJP on Wednesday along with the party's Jalandhar West MLA Sheetal Angural.

Rinku quit the Congress to join the AAP last year to contest the bypoll to the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat. He was a vocal critic of the BJP in the Lok Sabha and was even suspended from the House for his unruly protests.

The BJP is likely to field him in the Lok Sabha polls as it inducts a number of influential leaders from different political parties in Punjab to emerge as a strong force in the state that has 13 parliamentary constituencies.

On banned outfit Sikhs For Justice's chief Gurpatwant Singh Pannun purported claims that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal met the group's representatives in New York in 2014, Bharadwaj said it's shameful that the BJP and its trolls are taking a terrorist's allegations as "gospel truth".

"This shows the BJP is anti-national," the AAP leader said.

He also said the Centre is rattled by the governments of the US and Germany expressing concern over democracy in India and calling for a fair trial for Kejriwal.

The Centre recently summoned US and German diplomats following their government's remarks on Kejriwal's arrest.

According to reports, a US State Department official had said that Washington "encouraged a fair, transparent and timely legal process for Chief Minister Kejriwal".

Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate last week in connection with the money laundering case linked to the now-scrapped Delhi excise policy. He is in ED custody till March 28.