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Congress demands Kejriwal’s resignation over EC recommendation

IANS | New Delhi |


The Congress on Friday demanded the resignation of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying he has lost the moral right to rule after the Election Commission’s recommendation for the disqualification of 20 AAP legislators in the office of profit case.

“Today we are happy to hear that the EC has sent its recommendation for disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs to the President,” Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken told media here.

“We were waiting for it as in June 2016 we had approached the Chief Election Commissioner demanding the disqualification of 21 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLAs for holding office of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries to the Delhi Cabinet Ministers,” he said.

He said that in their appointment it was clearly written that they were appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries to the Ministers of Delhi government and not as the Parliamentary Secretaries to the Chief Minister.

“As per rule, Parliamentary Secretaries are only allowed to the Chief Minister,” he said.

Maken’s remarks came after the poll panel on Friday is said to have recommended the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs on grounds of holding office of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries.

The Congress application said 21 AAP MLAs, including Jarnail Singh (Rajouri Garden) who resigned to contest the Punjab Assembly polls last year, had been appointed Parliamentary Secretaries to Ministers in the Delhi government.

The Congress leader said the poll panel had heard the cases of both the parties for over last 18 months.

“Our petition was heard by three Election Commission officials, then CEC Nasim Zaidi, A.K. Joti and O.P. Rawatji,” he said, adding that Rawatji recused himself after Kejriwal accused him of being close to the BJP leadership, while Zaidi retired last year.

“Thus Jotiji had to take the decision as he is also set to retire on January 23,” he said.

The former Union Minister said the President will soon give his order on the issue as the Election Commission has submitted all the proof of the 20 AAP MLAs availing the benefits as Parliamentary Secretaries and “he is bound to act in accordance with the poll panel’s recommendation”.

“The evidences were given to the Election Commission by none other than the Chief Secretary of Delhi,” he said.

Demanding Kejriwal’s resignation, Maken said, “Kejriwal has lost the moral right to rule the city.

“Before coming to power, the AAP had said that they have pledged not to avail benefits like using government vehicles, bungalows.

“But soon after coming to power in 2015, Kejriwal appointed them as Parliamentary Secretaries,” he said.

Maken, who was also a Parliamentary Secretary to then Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit between January 1999 to November 2001, said that earlier on similar charges Congress leader Sonia Gandhi had resigned as MP in March 2006.

The panel on October last year issued notice to the AAP MLAs seeking an explanation after rejecting their pleas to drop the ‘office of profit’ case against them.

In March 2015, the AAP government passed an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997, to exempt the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the definition of office of profit with retrospective effect.

But then President Pranab Mukherjee refused to give assent, following which the appointments were set aside by the Delhi High Court in September 2016, declaring them illegal since the order had been passed “without concurrence/approval of the Lt Governor”.

Asked if in case of their disqualification was the Congress ready for polls, Maken said: “Yes, we are ready for the polls as out of those 20 seats about 13 are traditional party seats.”

Maken said his party would hold a protest on January 22 at the Delhi Secretariat and also demand the resignation of the 20 AAP MLAs.