New Delhi: Forty-nine days after he took charge of the Delhi government, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned yesterday along with six of his cabinet ministers following a tumultuous day in the state assembly where combined Congress and BJP legislators “defeated” his party’s attempts to introduce its signal Jan Lokpal Bill, which the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) says was meant to curb corruption in high places.
I Quit! Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal holds his resignation letter as he addresses supporters, as Manish Sisodia looks on. Kejriwal said it was more important to fight corruption than run a government. Pic/AFP
In a massive political embarrassment for the AAP government, Kejriwal introduced the bill amid din in the assembly, but an aggressive Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders became strange bedfellows to force Speaker MS Dhir to go for voting.
In the voting, 42 members voted against the introduction of the bill, while only 27 MLAs — all AAP leaders — voted for it.
As it became apparent that the Congress, BJP and Janata Dal-United legislator Shoiab Iqbal and lone independent Rambeer Shokeen will not allow the AAP government to introduce the bill, Kejriwal and his senior cabinet colleague Manish Sisodia presented two appropriation bills that would empower the government to access funds for expenditure.
Goes out fighting
Kejriwal then stood up to speak, giving enough indication he was going to resign when he said that this ‘seems like our last (assembly) session’. He said it was more important to ‘fight corruption than to run a government’.
“Today, they did not let the Jan Lokpal Bill to be introduced. It has been defeated,” declared a defiant and gesticulating Kejriwal.
“Whether our government remains in power or not is not important,” he said, trying to make himself heard above the din caused by sloganeering and heckling by Congress and BJP legislators. “We have come here to save the country. If we have to give up the chief minister’s post for the sake of the country, we will do it not a hundred times but a thousand times,” he said. Kejriwal took charge of Delhi on December 28 at the head of a minority government propped up by the Congress after an astonishing election victory.
When the three-day session ended in just two days, Kejriwal, without interacting with media, left for the party office. It was here that he announced his resignation. The final decision was taken by the party’s Political Affairs Committee.
Speaking from a window on the first floor of the office, Kejriwal said that the BJP and the Congress joined hands “when we tried to introduce the Jan Lokpal bill”.
“This had never happened in the history of India.” He alleged that Mukesh Ambani had been funding the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) alliance for 10 years and for the past one year was backing BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
“The moment we acted against Ambani, the BJP and the Congress got together,” he said, adding, “They knew that if this bill becomes law, then more than half of them will go to jail... So Kejriwal had to be removed.”
He added, “We worked day and night for the people of Delhi with sincerity... We may have made mistakes. We are also humans.” On February 9, Kejriwal had threatened to resign if the bill was not allowed to be passed. His resignation now sets him free to get back to the streets and do what he knows best — to emote with the problems of the aam aadmi, the common man, whose ranks have swelled in support for his party and on whom he is counting to translate his national ambitions.
Political analysts expect Kejriwal to make a strong bid for a substantial parliamentary presence in order to be a player in the post-election scenario in three months’ time.
AAP’s 49-day rule
>> Free supply of 667 litres of water daily for households with metered connections.
>> Fifty per cent subsidy in electricity bills for households which consume up to 400 units of power a month.
>> No red or blue beacons on official cars, bringing an end to ‘VIP culture’
>> All government schools surveyed for infrastructure deficiency and given Rs 1 lakh each for immediate repairs.
>> Some 24,000 people exempted from paying 50 percent of their power bills during the period they took part in an AAP campaign against inflated electricity bills.
>> Launched anti-corruption and nursery admission helplines.
>> New permits given to 5,500 autos.
>> Registered FIRs against former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit in irregularities in the preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and Petroleum Minister Veerappa Moily, former minister Murli Deora and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani for allegedly colluding to inflate natural gas prices and raising power bills.
>> Ordered audit of Delhi’s three power distribution companies.
Shortest CM stints
Kejriwal may have governed over Delhi for a short period but there are others who had even shorter stints as CM.
Jagdambika Pal, UP: 2 days (Feb 21-23, 1998)
Om Prakash Chautala, Haryana: 5 days (July 12-17, 1990)
Nitish Kumar, Bihar: 7 days (March 3-10, 2000)
BS Yeddyurappa, Karnataka: 7 days (Nov 12-19, 2007)
Om Prakash Chautala, Haryana: 15 days (March 22-April 6, 1991)
Sunderlal Patwa, Madhya Pradesh: 27 days (Jan 20-February 17)
Bhagwantrao Mandlai, Madhya Pradesh: 29 days (Jan 1-30, 1957)
N Bhaskara Rao, Andhra Pradesh: 31 days (Aug 16-Sept 16, 1984)
Kerala: 31 days
(March 25-April 25, 1977)
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation has only raised his stock among the common people of Delhi, the ‘aam aadmi’, who form his core support base:
So what if Kejriwal has resigned? This resignation proves that only a jhaadu waala (referring to the party symbol of ‘jhadu’ or broom) can deliver and end corruption in the city.
— Hanumanth Rai
We are with him in his resignation also. There should be a re-election as we are sure that next time he will win more than 50 seats and get the bills passed without support. He will come back to power. I can assure you that.
— Radha Sharma
My admiration for him has gone up manifold after he took on (Reliance chairperson) Mukesh Ambani. It takes a lot of guts to
do such a thing. I am a total AAP supporter and will vote for the party in the general and Delhi elections.
Who will look after our demands now? We doubt if any other party can even come close to Kejriwal’s work. It is an unfortunate day.
— Arvind Chautala