Aam Aadmi Party on Monday announced Atishi Marlena as its first Lok Sabha candidate from East Delhi. Marlena, who had previously served as Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia’s advisor, inaugurated her election office later in the day.
But within hours of her name being announced, a new controversy erupted after several media reports accused AAP of forcing Marlena to drop her ‘Christian’ sounding surname fearing that the BJP may extract an electoral advantage during the polls.
Quoting an anonymous AAP leader NDTV reported that the BJP had started spreading ‘rumours about Atishi even though she is from a Punjabi Rajput family.’ “So the party requested her to remove her surname from all our campaign material,” NDTV quoted an AAP leader.
The party reacted issuing a clarification that Marlena was never her surname. AAP’s Akshay Marathe tweeted, “She has always been Atishi. Marlena was a given name, while her surname is Singh.”
But the news evoked angry reactions from Twitterati including journalists, some of whom felt that AAP too had embarked on a communal agenda by asking its Lok Sabha candidate to drop her ‘Christian sounding’ surname.
Journalist Manimugdha Sharma wrote, “AAP has made Atishi Marlena drop ‘Marlena’ from her name as it “sounds Christian”. She’s their LS candidate, and AAP fears BJP will queer the pitch because of her name. Their politics is now hostage to fascist BJP? A disgusting and shameful move!”
Journalist Swati Chaturvedi tweeted, “Tells you the entire story of AAP & electoral politics in India that @AtishiAAP has had to drop her last name because it does not sound Hindu to contest an election.”
Academic and columnist Ashok Swain wrote, “If this news is true, India has already gone to cows – Glad & Relieved that I have no plan to join politics, nor AAP!”
Journalist Nikhil Wagle asked, “AAP should clarify. Was Atishi asked to drop ‘Marlena’?”
Marlena was an advisor to Sisodia between July 2015 to April 17, 2018 and was also involved in drafting the manifesto of the party in the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections.
The announcement of Marlena as the AAP candidate from East Delhi Lok Sabha constituency comes amidst reports that the Congress is not keen to form an alliance with Kejriwal for the 2019 elections. The reluctance shown by the Congress in aligning with the AAP has been primarily because of the nasty campaign run by Kejriwal in 2013 assembly elections against Sheila Dikshit, the then incumbent chief minister.