Disqualified AAP MLA Kapil Mishra, women's wing chief join BJP

(Eds: Adding AAP's reaction) /R New Delhi, Aug 17 (PTI) Disqualified Aam Aadmi Party legislator Kapil Mishra, who has been a vocal critic of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and party women's wing chief Richa Pandey joined the BJP here on Saturday. Mishra and Pandey joined the saffron party at its office in the presence of vice-president Shyam Jaju, Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari, leader of Opposition in the Assembly Vijender Gupta and former Union minister Vijay Goel. Speculation about Mishra joining the Bharatiya Janata Party were doing the rounds since he started criticising AAP supremo Kejriwal after being removed as a minister in May 2017. He grew close to many Delhi BJP leaders and often shared stage with them. Terming the occasion an "emotional moment" for him, Mishra accused the AAP of taking a U-turn from its principles and the anti-corruption stand of the 'India Against Corruption' movement, from which the party was born. "I was feeling helpless for the past few years due to the murder of the anti-corruption movement, lies and manipulations of the party I was in," the former minister said. "Joining the BJP, I feel like a man who has finally reached the shore." Jaju, who is the incharge of the Delhi BJP, said Mishra had expressed his desire to join the party when Kejriwal sought "evidence" of the surgical strikes. Taking a dig at the chief minister, Mishra said the AAP chief was seen with Congress leaders like P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and NCP's Sharad Pawar, against whom party volunteers once faced police lathis while protesting. The AAP, meanwhile, said it was glad that Mishra had taken off his "mask" today. "We stand vindicated that he was enacting all the theatrics for drama produced and directed by the BJP," party spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said. Welcoming Mishra and Pandey into the BJP, Tiwari said: "I hope they will serve Delhi by following the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and philosophy of Deendayal Upadhyaya and Syama Prasad Mookerjee." Mishra said he would work to end the "negativity" in Delhi by helping the BJP win the assembly polls due next year. Earlier this month, Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel had disqualified Mishra under the anti-defection law after he campaigned for the BJP during the Lok Sabha election. Mishra, who was elected from Karawal Nagar, has challenged his disqualification in the high court. Pandey, who headed the AAP's women's wing and was a spokesperson, said the AAP born out of search of "alternative politics". "I realised the alternative politics I was seeking was not there at the Rouse Avenue (AAP headquarters), but it is here in the BJP," she said. "Aam Aadmi Party has become a 'khas' (special) party of 'khas' people." Pandey said she had spoken against the BJP and its leaders as an AAP leader, adding that now she felt like a "wayward person who has managed to reach back home". Kapil Mishra's mother, Annapurna Mishra, who is a senior BJP leader and former east Delhi mayor, was also present at the occasion. "My mother used to argue with me, but I could not understand. It's true you realise the worth of your parents' wisdom after getting knocked down," he added. PTI VIT UZMHMB