EC wants a clean sweep for AAP

Updated: 20 January, 2018 10:46 IST | Agencies | New Delhi

Asks the President to disqualify 20 of the party's€ MLAs, says they had held office of profit

 The BJP and Congress have demanded that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should resign on moral grounds. File pic
The BJP and Congress have demanded that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal should resign on moral grounds. File pic

In a blow to Delhi's ruling Aam Aadmi Party, the Election Commission yesterday asked the President to disqualify 20 of its MLAs for holding offices of profit, setting the stage for their ouster from the Assembly. The development does not threaten the AAP government as it has 65 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly. Still, the BJP and Congress demanded that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal resign on moral grounds.

Reacting furiously to the EC order, AAP claimed the Chief Election Commissioner was trying to destabilize its government at the behest of the prime minister. Seven of these MLAs moved the Delhi High Court challenging the EC's recommendation but the bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal refused to pass any interim order.

In its opinion sent to President Ram Nath Kovind yesterday morning, the Election Commission said the MLAs, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries between March 13, 2015 and September 8, 2016, held office of profit, and were liable to be disqualified as legislators, highly-placed sources said. Parliamentary Secretaries assist ministers with their work. The AAP insisted that despite holding the office these MLAs did not take any salaries or perks.

AAP attacks EC
The AAP launched an unrestrained attack on Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti, saying he was "repaying the debt" to Prime Minister Narendra Modi before his retirement on Monday, January 22. "A K Joti was the principal secretary under (the then Gujarat Chief Minister) Narendra Modi and then the chief secretary of Gujarat.

He is retiring on Monday. So you want to repay Modi ji's debt. You are mortgaging a constitutional post like the Election Commission," AAP's Delhi unit spokesman Saurabh Bharadwaj alleged. "The EC should not be the letter box of the PMO. But that is the reality today," another senior AAP leader Ashutosh tweeted.

Other parties react
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra cited corruption and criminal cases against AAP MLas to claim that the party which started its political journey from India Against Corruption movement has become "I am corruption". "Many of the Kejriwal cabinet members had to resign. Fifteen of their MLAs have cases against them and 12 were arrested under different charges. In this scenario, the biggest question before the people is whether Arvind Kejriwal government has any moral right to remain in power," Patra told reporters.

Delhi Congress president Ajay Maken also said the chief minister had lost the moral right to be in power. "Where is Lokpal? The MLAs and Ministers enjoying perks of
power and foreign travel-Where is political probity," he tweeted.

65 Number of AAP's current seats in the Delhi Assembly
45 No. of seats it will have after the disqualification

AAP ke woh 20

Adarsh Shastri (Dwarka), Alka Lamba (Chandni Chowk), Anil Bajpai (Gandhi Nagar), Avtar Singh (Kalkaji), Kailash Gahlot (Najafgarh) - who is also a minister - Madan Lal (Kasturba Nagar), Manoj Kumar (Kondli), Naresh Yadav (Mehrauli), Nitin Tyagi (Laxmi Nagar), Praveen Kumar (Jangpura). Others are: Rajesh Gupta (Wazirpur), Rajesh Rishi Janakpuri), Sanjeev Jha (Burari), Sarita Singh (Rohtas Nagar), Som Dutt (Sadar Bazar), Sharad Kumar (Narela), Shiv Charan Goel (Moti Nagar), Sukhbir Singh (Mundka), Vijendar Garg (Rajinder Nagar) and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).

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First Published: 20 January, 2018 09:44 IST

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