BJP’s Aim to Oust AAP Govt Culminated in MLAs’ Disqualification
Image used for representational purposes.
Image used for representational purposes.(Photo: Rahul Gupta / The Quint)

BJP’s Aim to Oust AAP Govt Culminated in MLAs’ Disqualification

(A government notification on Sunday, 21 January, said that President Kovind has approved EC recommendation to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs. This article was published originally published on 20 January.)

The Election Commission has finally recommended the disqualification of the 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The BJP and Congress have demanded Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation. In fact, Ajay Maken tweeted the same, claiming Kejriwal has no right to continue in his position.

Of course, Maken doesn’t remember that he didn’t ask for the resignation of his party’s Mukul Sangma, the Meghalaya Chief Minister, when the High Court quashed the appointment of 18 Parliamentary Secretaries appointed by him.

Their fate is left hanging, as the Court has requested the governor to disqualify them. Should we call this a case of short-term memory or having double standards?

Also Read: AAP MLAs’ Disqualification Proves EC & PMO’s ‘Collusion’: Ashutosh

After receiving a deadly blow in Delhi in 2013, as well as in 2015, from AAP, the BJP is sore about the double-loss, and has been trying to destabilise the AAP government, as alleged by Kejriwal.

It all started with the constant meddling by the then Lieutenant Governor (LG) in the affairs of the Delhi government. Delhi voters were suddenly made to realise that an unelected LG is their boss, confirmed by the Delhi High Court. Kejriwal as Chief Minister has no authority, with the AAP fighting it out in the Supreme Court, and a five-judge Constitution bench hearing the matter.

Ugly ongoing interactions between the LG and AAP have been the order of the day. In fact, very recently, the present LG Anil Baijal and the AAP government were at loggerheads on the ‘doorstep delivery of services’ act.

The I-T department has recently slapped a Rs 30 crore tax notice on AAP over alleged undisclosed income. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has issued notices to it for allegedly receiving foreign funding. And this news has been sensationalised by the media.

People have clearly forgotten that national parties like the BJP and Congress have been held guilty of receiving foreign funding by the Delhi High Court way back in 2014. While the court had instructed the EC to take action on this matter, the EC has been sitting on it for the past three years.

Also Read: Meet Prashant Patel, the AAP’s Nightmare for The Last Three Years

Ongoing Battle Between LG & AAP Govt

Moreover, the LG has reprimanded AAP and asked the party to cough up Rs 97 crore of the public money, that Kejriwal government reportedly spent on advertisements in Tamil Nadu and Odisha. Is there any other example where the governor of a state has asked the state government to cough up money spent on advertisements in other states? A quick scan of the newspapers will tell you that other states have been constantly placing ads in newspapers outside their states.

In December 2015, Arun Jaitley filed a civil defamation case against Kejriwal and five other AAP leaders claiming they made “false and defamatory” statements in a case involving the DDCA. Political accusations have now been taken to courts to thwart AAP’s voice. By this logic, many Opposition leaders should have been jailed by now, considering the loose remarks they make on a daily basis.

The ruling party, after failing in all the above efforts, tried to divide the AAP through Kapil Mishra and Kumar Vishwas. But nobody cares about Mishra’s allegations and people have realised he is a stooge. Kejriwal and company managed to placate Vishwas at the time.

Also Read: Kejriwal Ignored My Suggestions: Kumar Vishwas on AAP MLAs Row

One Last Dig at AAP

Now, after all this, comes the disqualification of the 20 MLAs for allegedly holding ‘offices of profit’.

As per a report by The Wire, BJP MLA Vijay Jolly filed a petition with the President in 2006 seeking the disqualification of 18 Congress MLAs for holding ‘offices of profit’.

The issue was passed on to the EC and notices were issued to these MLAs. Meanwhile, the Delhi Assembly passed the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) (Amendment) Bill, 2006, with retrospective effect from September 1997, exempting 14 posts from the purview of ‘office of profit’ and the President readily accorded assent to the Bill.

Kejriwal extended the list to include other Parliamentary Secretaries by passing a similar bill, but this time, it was surprisingly withheld by the President. Parties across states make such appointments as pointed out by the report, but there has no hue and cry over these.

Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje appointed eight Parliamentary Secretaries during 2002-2008. In her recent term, she has appointed five MLAs to the same office.

Similar favours were extended to many legislators in Punjab, Goa, Haryana, and Gujarat in the past. This is a clear case of discrimination.

The AAP voter in Delhi isn’t blind to this.

Also Read: It’s Unconstitutional: Ashutosh on EC Disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs

Attempts to Divide AAP

Attempts are being made to not allow the elected government to function properly. Despite all this, AAP has spread its wings and is today the main Opposition in Punjab. The denial of a Rajya Sabha ticket to Kumar Vishwas once again provides an opportunity to the Opposition to create a wedge within the AAP.

Any attempt to create an Arunachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand-type situation, and then form a government through the back door, is bound to boomerang and will only make AAP stronger. Such attempts are likely to damage the BJP’s prospects in the Lok Sabha where it swept all seven seats in 2014.

I am amazed by the public response to this incident. A section of the public is clearly using different yardsticks for evaluating different parties. If national parties indulge in corruption, it is fine. But when such accusations are levelled against the AAP, they are enraged. Why? Because the AAP had claimed to be a party with a ‘difference’. As an AAP supporter said on Friday, ‘Hum (AAP) karein toh Raasleela, Aap (National parties) karein to Ramleela’.

(The author is an independent political commentator and can be reached at @politicalbaaba. The views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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