Atishi and Saurabh Bhardwaj: Trusted lieutenants of Arvind Kejriwal

Both Atishi and Saurabh Bhardwaj have been loyal workers of the party and have been entrusted with major responsibilities by AAP over the last one decade

Atishi, Saurabh Bhardwaj, AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, trusted colleagues, new ministers, education department, MCD elections, AAP MLAs, Kalkaji, Greater Kailash, Rhodes scholar, computer engineer
Atishi, along with Saurbah Bhardwaj, was at the forefront of AAP’s MCD fight

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs Atishi and Saurabh Bhardwaj will be the two new ministers in Kejriwal’s cabinet in Delhi, following the resignation of Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain, both in jail on separate charges.

Both Atishi and Saurabh Bhardwaj have been loyal workers of the party and trusted colleagues of chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

A Rhodes scholar

Atishi, also known as Atishi Marlena, is the daughter of Delhi University professors Vijay Kumar Singh and Tripta Wahi. She went to Delhi’s prestigious Springdales School and then to St Stephen’s College to study history. After her graduation, she did her Masters in history from UK’s Oxford University and later joined the Magdalen College, Oxford, as a Rhodes scholar.


Also read: Kejriwal recommends AAP MLAs Atishi, Saurabh Bhardwaj for Delhi Cabinet

Atishi was appointed as adviser to Delhi Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia in 2015. She was one of the 10 advisers appointed. But in 2018,  she had to leave following an objection by the Union home ministry, saying that proper procedure was not followed in the appointment.

Working with Sisodia

Atishi still remained involved in matters related to the education department in her personal capacity; she worked quite closely with Sisodia in education matters.

She fought the 2019 Lok Sabha election as AAP candidate from East Delhi, but lost to BJP’s Gautam Gambhir. However, in 2020 assembly election, she won from the Kalkaji constituency.

Since then, she has been in the core group of AAP, involved in making government’s policy making process. She was active during the MCD elections and during the contentious mayoral and standing committee elections Atishi was given the responsibility of managing 134 councillors of AAP and coordinating the party’s strategy.

Bhardwaj: three-time MLA

Along with Atishi, Saurabh Bhardwaj was also at the forefront of AAP’s MCD fight.

Bhardwaj, a third-time MLA representing the Greater Kailash constituency in the Delhi Legislative Assembly, is currently the vice-chairman of the Delhi Jal Board.

Born and raised in New Delhi, Bhardwaj is a computer science engineer from Delhi’s Indraprastha University and a law graduate from Osmania University. Before entering politics, he was a software engineer.

He was first elected on AAP ticket to the Delhi Assembly in 2013 from Greater Kailash constituency and was made minister for food & supply, transport, environment and general administration department (GAD) in the 49-day AAP government that fell following a dharna by Kejriwal.

In 2015, he defeated BJP’s Rakesh Kumar Gullaiya and in 2020, BJP’s Shikha Rai to win from the constituency for three consecutive times.

EVM hacking claims

Bhardwaj came into the limelight in 2017 when he claimed Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) could be hacked. He said that a ‘secret code’ could be used to tamper with the EVMs. The AAP gave a “demonstration” on ways to rig an EVM, and said the machines are a “threat to democracy”.

Also read: Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain quit as Delhi ministers

During the demonstration, Bhardwaj showed how votes polled in favour of AAP could be transferred to the BJP. He claimed “secret codes” were used to tamper with the EVM he was testing and said that the EVM hacking could be done within 90 seconds. The party’s claims, however, were rebuffed by the Election Commission, which said that AAP used a prototype,  and not the ones used by EC.

As the party’s official spokesperson, Bhardwaj has been very active in putting forward the AAP’s views and narratives.