February    2019

Political Uncertainty looms over Delhi

Saturday,20 Jan 2018 11:46 AM IST

Media Eye News Bureau: The Aam Aadmi Party suffered a major setback in Delhi as the Election Commission have recommended the  disqualification of 20 of its MLAs for holding "office of profit" as Parliamentary Secretaries.

Opposition parties have called for the resignation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal while the ruling pary accused the Election Commission as biased.

The disqualification, most likely, will hit AAP's massive majority in the Delhi assembly, fuelling chances for imminent by-election in the state. The 'mini election', prior to the mega election in 2019, will pose a huge test for the ruling AAP, at a time when the BJP trying to extend their tremendous seven-all victory in the previous general election in 2014.

Six AAP MLAs meanwhile sought an immediate stay on the EC order but the Delhi High Court declined to pass any interim order. The court will hear the matter on Monday.

The EC is learnt to have conveyed its opinion to the President Friday afternoon and the President is bound to act in accordance with the poll panel's recommendation.

The move will pave the way for by-polls in Delhi for 20 constituencies of the 70-member assembly. The AAP at present has officially 66 members in the House although some have turned dissidents. The other four seats are held by the BJP.

Even if 20 MLAs are disqualified, the ruling party will still have a comfortable majority in the Delhi Assembly. But by-elections, if called, will put to test Kejriwal's grip on Delhi.

The MLAs who face the axe are Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gehlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal Khufiya, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).

The AAP said the EC recommendation was based on false allegations, alleging that the "BJP through its agents seriously compromises the prestige of the EC just to divert the attention of the nation from its all round failures.

"What (the) Modi government appointed Election Commission is leaking to the media is a recommendation made without hearing the arguments of MLAs on the false allegation of office of profit. Such a blatantly biased recommendation will not stand scrutiny in court of law," Kejriwal's media advisor Nagendra Sharma said.

AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said there was a political conspiracy against the party, alleging that Chief Election Commissioner Achal Kumar Jyoti, a 1975 batch IAS officer who was Gujarat Chief Secretary when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister, was "paying back" to Prime Minister just a few days before demitting office. Joti's term expires on Monday.

The Congress and the BJP welcomed the move and asked Kejriwal to step down.

"Kejriwal has no right to continue. Half of his cabinet ministers were removed on corruption charges. Twenty MLAs who were enjoying ministerial perks would be disqualified," Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Kejriwal has lost the moral right to continue. He accused the Chief Minister of acting like a dictator, saying "the party and the government function on the basis of (whatever he says).

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