MLAs disqualification issue: AAP says EC touched low; BJP, Cong demand Kejriwal's resignation

PTI
Friday, 19 January 2018

The Election Commission recommended to the President the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit, setting the stage for their ouster from the Assembly.

NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has never "touched this low", an angry AAP today said after the poll panel recommended disqualification of 20 of its MLAs while Delhi units of both the BJP and Congress demanded Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's resignation.

While the AAP alleged that the EC "should not be the letter box of the PMO", the Delhi BJP said it "stands prepared for elections any moment" while regretting that the EC allowed "undue" adjournments of hearings of AAP MLAs, which "dearly" cost the people of Delhi.

The Election Commission recommended to the President the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding office of profit, setting the stage for their ouster from the Assembly.

In its opinion sent to President Ram Nath Kovind this 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.

AAP's Ashutosh tweeted, "The EC should not be the letter box of the PMO. But that is the reality today."

"A person like me who has covered EC as a reporter during (T N) Seshan days, today I can say EC has never touched so low ever," the scribe-turned politician added.

Meanwhile, BJP's city unit chief Manoj Tiwari said the EC allowed long adjournments to the 20 MLAs during the hearings of the issue which cost dearly to the people of Delhi.

"We welcome the EC decision disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs. Arvind Kejriwal should take responsibility for moral defeat and resign," he said.

Taking advantage of EC's long adjournments of hearings on the issue, these MLAs have not only "looted and cheated" the people of Delhi but also denied development, Tiwari said.

"Taking advantage of this delay the AAP has succeeded in sending three persons to the Rajya Sabha and in the process has also sullied the image of the Upper House of Parliament," he said.

The Delhi Congress also demanded Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's resignation, with its president Ajay Maken saying that Kejriwal has lost the right to be in power.

"Kejriwal has no right to continue. Half of his cabinet ministers removed on corruption charges! 20 MLAs who were enjoying ministerial perks would be disqualified! (sic)," the Congress leader tweeted.

"Where is Lokpal? The MLAs and Ministers enjoying perks of power and foreign travel-Where is political probity (sic)?," the tweet further read.

In the present case, the petition was made to disqualify 21 MLAs, but one had resigned a few months back.

The President is bound to go by the recommendation of the Commission. Under the rules, petitions to the President seeking disqualification of lawmakers are referred to the EC. The poll panel takes a decision and sends its recommendation to the Rashtrapati Bhavan which is accepted.

Once the President accepts the opinion, by-elections will have to be held for the 20 assembly seats. The ruling AAP has a massive majority in the 70-member Delhi assembly with 65 seats.

The disqualification will not endanger the Arvind Kejriwal government though its numbers will come down to 45. They would still enjoy a comfortable majority.

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