AAP's East Delhi candidate Atishi Thursday broke down while reading a pamphlet containing "obscene and derogatory" remarks against her, that she alleged has been distributed in the constituency by her BJP rival Gautam Gambhir, a charge denied by the cricketer-turned-politician.
The BJP, in turn, charged the AAP with staging such incidents.
Returning officer of the East Delhi parliamentary constituency K Mahesh directed the police to "file an FIR" in connection with a controversial pamphlet but did not specify whether a complaint was received in this regard or his office took suo motu cognisance of the case.
When contacted, DCP (East) Jasmeet Singh said, "We have not received any complaint yet. We will look into it if we receive any complaint and take action accordingly."
Atishi alleged the pamphlets containing derogatory remarks on her as well as her family were distributed by the BJP at housing complexes.
"I have only one question for Gautam Gambhir. If he is doing this against one woman, what about the lakhs of women in east Delhi who are worried about their safety," she said.
The AAP East Delhi candidate, who was accompanied by Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia during a press conference, broke down as she read out the pamphlet in front of reporters.
Gambhir, in a series of tweets, said he is "ashamed" to have Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister and he would withdraw his candidature if the charge against him is proved.
He also said he would file a defamation case against Aam Aadmi Party leaders for tarnishing his image.
"You can't tarnish someone's image without proof. I have never given a negative statement against any opposition candidate in my election campaigning," he said in a press statement.
While Sisodia alleged these pamphlets were kept in newspapers and distributed in apartment complexes, Kejriwal said he "never imagined Gautam Gambhir would stoop so low".
"How can women expect safety if people with such mentality are voted in? Atishi, stay strong. I can imagine how difficult it must be for you. It is precisely this kind of forces we have to fight against," the Delhi chief minister tweeted.
Gambhir wrote on Twitter, "I abhor your act of outraging a woman's modesty @ArvindKejriwal and that too your own colleague. And all this for winning elections? U r filth Mr CM and someone needs ur very own jhaadu to clean ur dirty mind(sic)."
"My Challenge no.2 @ArvindKejriwal @AtishiAAP I declare that if its proven that I did it, I will withdraw my candidature right now. If not, will u quit politics?(sic)" he said in another tweet.
Refuting the allegation, BJP's media in-charge, East Delhi, Nvon Kumar said, "The BJP has nothing to do with the alleged pamphlets. AAP has no character and its notoriety about stage managing such things is well known. They can do anything like getting their leaders slapped and distribute scandalous pamphlets to be in race for Lok Sabha elections that they are badly losing."
However, in a press conference held at the Delhi BJP office, AAP MLA Anil Bajpai, who switched sides recently, alleged that he saw Atishi "eating beef at a wedding".
"I had gone to attend a wedding ceremony over three months ago where I saw Atishi eating beef. She and her companions asked me not to talk about it saying it was no sin to eat beef," he alleged.
However, support poured in for Atishi from various quarters, with Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav saying the pamphlet is a "new, distressing and disturbing low".
"The BJP needs to realise that it's better to lose with dignity than to lose all dignity," he said in a tweet.
Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani, who has been campaigning for Atishi, said the pamphlet is "bigotry" and "hateful to the core".
Targeting the BJP and Gambhir, he tweeted, "Even if the party and candidates like him don't officially peddle or endorse it, their supporters online surely do. They tell me in comments to go clean gutters, while such progressive women face misogynist, casteist, communal abuses."
Actress Swara Bhasker said people should give a befitting reply in the upcoming polls to those who made Atishi cry.
"East Delhi, you should exact revenge of the tears brought in the eyes of Delhi's daughter by voting for her. People who do not respect women what respect would they show to their daughters," she said in a tweet.
Atishi also found support from Twitter users who lauded the Oxford graduate for her courage.
"First, you question her religion, her name. Then, you assassinate her character. But she is much more than her name and body. She is a woman who is determined to change the world. She is her idea, her work, her determination," said Shivangi Choubey, a Twitter user.
Kavita Krishnan, general secretary of AIPWA, started a Twitter thread #IStandWithAtishi in which she lashed out at Gambhir and asked him how a woman in public life facing such a slander campaign feels.