AAP's East Delhi candidate, Atishi on Friday complained to the Delhi Commission for Women over an “obscene and derogatory” pamphlet targeting her, and distributed in the constituency, stating that she holds the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and her rival from the party Gautam Gambhir directly responsible.
Gambhir had rejected the charge and sent a notice to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, and Atishi, for alleged defamation, demanding that they withdraw the allegation and tender an unconditional apology over the matter.
Sisodia on Friday threatened to file a counter-suit in the matter, and said he would be sending a notice for defamation to him.
"We are the ones being defamed, we will file a defamation case against him," he said.
Atishi on Thursday broke down while reading the pamphlet against her, that she alleged has been distributed in the constituency at the behest Gambhir, a charge denied by the cricketer-turned-politician.
The BJP alleged that the AAP was staging such incidents.
Atishi submitted her complaint to the DCW, in which she called it a textbook case of character assassination of a woman, who has chosen to enter public life.
She claimed no other entity except the BJP and Gambhir "stood to gain from spreading such virulently hateful propaganda against a woman".
"Ever since I took the plunge into active politics, I faced a fair amount of attacks and criticism from political rivals and I had learnt to take it with a pinch of salt,”, she said in the letter to the DCW.
"However, earlier this week, a most disturbing pamphlet was brought to my notice by our well-wishers who received the pamphlet by post, and other means such as newspaper inserts and distribution in parks," she added.
Atishi said the contents of the pamphlet have been attached to this complaint.
"The contents of this complaint cannot be reproduced by me because they're a combination of communal, misogynistic, casteist slurs and falsehoods against me, the elected Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi," she said.
"There can be no doubt about the fact that the BJP and Gautam Gambhir are directly responsible for this as there is no other entity that stood to gain from spreading such virulently hateful propaganda against a woman. This is a textbook case of character assassination of a woman who has chosen to enter public life," she stated in the letter.
Atishi said she is extremely pained that she has become the latest target of the regressive mindset, that does not believe women can be equal citizens and have equal opportunity.
"I am writing to you to seek your urgent intervention in the matter in order to ensure that there is a thorough and independent investigation into the matter by all agencies and that this act will not go unpunished. I urge you to assist me in this fight against those who have chosen to use sick and misogynistic tactics in this election," she added.
Gambhir, in a series of tweets, said he is "ashamed" to have Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister, and he would withdraw his candidature if the charge against him is proved.
"You can't tarnish someone's image without proof. I have never given a negative statement against any opposition candidate in my election campaigning," he said in a press statement.
Gambhir on Friday said he will "hang" himself in public if the Aam Aadmi Party can prove that he has any link to the derogatory pamphlet.
However, support poured in for Atishi from various quarters, with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav saying the pamphlet is a "new, distressing and disturbing low".
"The BJP needs to realise that it's better to lose with dignity than to lose all dignity," he said in a tweet.
The letter circulated about @AtishiAAP is a new, distressing and disturbing low.
The BJP needs to realise that it's better to lose with dignity than to lose all dignity.— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) May 9, 2019
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, who has been campaigning for Atishi, said the pamphlet is "bigotry" and "hateful to the core".
Targeting the BJP and Gambhir, he tweeted, "Even if the party and candidates like him don't officially peddle or endorse it, their supporters online surely do. They tell me in comments to go clean gutters, while such progressive women face misogynist, casteist, communal abuses."
The pamphlet is bigotry and hateful to the core— Jignesh Mevani (@jigneshmevani80) May 9, 2019
Even if the party & candidates like him don’t officially peddle or endorse it, their supporters online surely do. They tell me in comments to go clean gutters, while such progressive women face misogynist, casteist, communal abuses https://t.co/oWNOqGKYlH
Atishi also found support from Twitter users who lauded the Oxford graduate for her courage.