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A lawyer and politician, Somnath Bharti is affiliated to an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) member who has won back-to-back elections from the Malaviya Nagar constituency in South Delhi. After winning the 2013 Delhi Assembly election, Bharti was appointed the minister for law, administrative reforms, and art & culture in the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government that lasted only 49 days.
When an Assembly election was next held in 2015, Bharti and won from the Malviya Nagar seat with a bigger mandate than in 2013, while his party swept the election, winning 67 of the 70 seats.
Born in Bihar’s Nawada in 1974 to Sitaram Bharti and Manorama Rani, Bharti has practised in both the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court as a lawyer. After completing his early education from Bihar, Bharti did an MSc from IIT Delhi in 1997 and followed it up with an LLB degree from the Delhi University (DU).
He practised civil and criminal law after graduating from DU but the majority of his professional career revolved around public issues, which he pursued through public interest litigation (PIL). He also formed a law firm, Bharti & Associates (Advocates and Corporate Lawyers).
Bharti had been active as a social activist even before he entered active politics. In 2012, he campaigned against the then Union Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Kapil Sibal for interfering in the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE) admission process. He became an active member of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement and later joined the AAP as one of its founding members.
Somnath Bharti’s controversies
Even as Bharti has won twice from the same constituency, his run as a lawmaker has not been without controversies. From allegations of domestic abuse to vigilantism, Bharti has been at the centre of many rows. The first major controversy erupted when some residents of Khirki Extension in his constituency accused Bharti of vigilantism and trespass. He had apparently ordered the Delhi Police to raid a house following complaints of alleged prostitution and drug racket. When the police refused to barge in over lack of a warrant, people alleged that Bharti, along with a group of people, caught four women and forced them to undergo medical tests. The tests, conducted at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), however, did not find any drug traces in their system.
In September 2015, Bharti was arrested on charges of domestic abuse levelled by his wife, who alleged Bharti beat her. The Delhi High Court in May 2019 cleared Bharti of charges of domestic violence.
Delhi Assembly election 2020
In the 2020 Delhi election, the AAP has again fielded Somnath Bharti from Malviya Nagar, a seat he won in 2015 with a vote share of 54.99 per cent against the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Dr Nandani Sharma (37.91 per cent) and Congress heavyweight Yoganand Shasti (5.97 per cent). This time, Bharti is pitted against the BJP’s Shailendra Singh Monty and the Congress’ Neetu Verma.