Former Aam Aadmi Party leader Ashutosh, who quit the Arvind Kejriwal party in mid of August, on Wednesday claimed that the AAP forced him to use his surname in an attempt to invoke caste sentiments during 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Taking to Twitter the journalist-turned-politician said that he was urged to use his surname Gupta as soon as he was introduced to the AAP workers as a candidate in the run-up of 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
The party had even mentioned his last name despite his protest, saying that without highlighting his caste, it will be difficult for him to win from Chandni Chowk constituency. Ashutosh was contesting on an AAP ticket against BJP's Harsh Vardhan and Congress's Kapil Sibal.
"In 23 years of my journalism, no one asked my caste, surname. Was known by my name. But as I was introduced to party workers as LOKSABHA candidate in 2014 my surname was promptly mentioned despite my protest," the former journalist wrote.
"Later they asked how you will win the election without mentioning your caste. There are many voters of your caste in the constituency," Ashutosh added.
In 23 years of my journalism, no one asked my caste, surname. Was known by my name. But as I was introduced to party workers as LOKSABHA candidate in 2014 my surname was promptly mentioned despite my protest. Later I was told - सर आप जीतोगे कैसे, आपकी जाति के यहाँ काफी वोट हैं ।— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) August 29, 2018
The news came days after the Aam Aadmi Party sparked a fresh controversy asking Aatishi Marlena to drop her surname because it sounds like a Christian surname to the people. Atishi Marlena will contest the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha election from Delhi.
Minutes after Ashutosh's tweet started doing rounds on social networking sites and several media houses started connecting it with recent Atishi Marlena matter, the former AAP leader clarified his stance, saying that his statement is misunderstood by "TV HAWKS".
"I am no longer with AAP, not constrained by party discipline and free to express my views. It will be wrong to attribute my words as an attack on AAP. It will be gross manipulation of media freedom. Spare me. I am not a member of anti-AAP BRIGADE," Ashutosh added.
My tweet is misunderstood by TV HAWKS. I am no longer with AAP, not constrained by party discipline and free to express my views. It will be wrong to attribute my words as attack on AAP. It will be gross manipulation of media freedom. Spare me. I not member of anti-AAP BRIGADE.— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) August 29, 2018
On August 15, Ashutosh in a tweet confirmed his resignation from AAP, citing some personal reasons. However, sources assumed that the decision came on the heels of
Ashutosh's dissatisfaction for not being picked by the Party for a Delhi seat in Rajya Sabha. Apart from Ashutosh, several other aspirants got upset after Kejriwal nominated Sushil Gupta, Narayan Das Gupta and Sanjay Singh for the high-profile seats in Parliament.