Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal prepares for a showdown with Cong, BJP over jan lokpal bill
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the Capital will face a crucial test on Friday when it will be tabling it’s showpiece anti-corruption legislation, the jan lokpal bill, amidst a deadlock in the Delhi assembly.
According to reports, Arvind Kejriwal-led government on Friday indicated that they will resign if jan lokpal bill was not introduced in the assembly, but not if the proposal was defeated in a vote.
“If the Congress and the BJP allow a vote on the bill, and it is defeated, we will not quit. If they block the bill’s introduction, we will resign,” AAP sources told NDTV, adding, “We came to power only for the jan lokpal and Swaraj bills.”
Law minister Somnath Bharti is to table the jan lokpal bill in the assembly at 2pm on Friday.
“We will try to introduce the jan lokpal bill on Friday. If it is beaten and defeated by the Congress and BJP, I will resign,” Kejriwal had told reporters on Thursday in New Delhi.
The AAP wants to pass the bill, which is aimed at curbing corruption in high places, in this four-day session which started on Thursday. Saturday is the last working day of the special session called just to pass the two pieces of legislation that AAP had showcased in its manifesto for the Delhi assembly election.
But if the session was not allowed to be held on Saturday and on Sunday despite the chief minister’s desire, it would be extended.
Kejriwal came down strongly on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the main opposition, and the Congress, which ostensibly props up his minority government.
The assembly witnessed a stormy day, with four adjournments and no business taking place on the floor of the House, CM Kejriwal alleged that the Congress and the BJP had joined hands and did not want the house to function.
“This is the first time in the history of India that both the Congress and the BJP had such a synchronized setting,” he added. “It was very well coordinated.
“Even in the all-party meeting that happened with the Speaker, the leaders of Congress and the BJP said they did not want the House to function,” he alleged.
As if to prove Kejriwal right, legislators from the Congress and the BJP repeatedly came up to speaker MS Dhir, who is from the AAP, and forcibly turned the microphones towards their sides to raise slogans.
Congress legislator Asif Muhammad Khan, who has been at his aggressive best against the AAP for some time, was the most noisy.
Khan, a legislator from Okhla in south Delhi, climbed atop the speaker’s podium and tore legislative papers kept there.
He then approached Kejriwal and broke the microphone on his desk before tearing the papers kept on his desk.
The pandemonium appeared to have no effect on the AAP benches. All 27 party legislators saw through the commotion seemingly unruffled.
Kejriwal didn’t speak during the disturbances but watched it all keenly. So did education minister Manish Sisodia, who was, as usual, seated by his side.
Expelled AAP member Vinod Kumar Binny was present in the house but did not take part in the disturbances. But Janata Dal-United’s Shoaib Iqbal as well as independent Rambeer Shokeen were part of the protests.
There was uproar since Thursday afternoon, with both the BJP and Congress members demanding the resignation of Law Minister Somnath Bharti over his alleged misbehaviour with African women.
Talking to reporters at Delhi Secretariat after the assembly session, Kejriwal said Somanth Bharti was only a scapegoat.
“Their (Congress and BJP) main agenda was that the House should not function. They were raising all kinds of issues and storming to the well of the House one by one. Their actions were synchronised. Even when the Speaker agreed to the debate on Bharti, the two parties moved two quick resolutions and forced the House be adjourned for the day,” the chief minister said.
Clearing his position on Delhi Lokpal Bill, 2014 Kejriwal said they can always take the permission of the Lieutenant Governor after introducing it in the House. “Section 26 of transaction of business rules clearly says that the permission of the L-G can always be taken later,” Kejriwal said.
Reiterating his position that Delhi government does not have to send the Bill to the Centre for prior approval, Kejriwal said there was nothing in the Constitution of India making prior approval a must.
“For me, the Constitution of India is supreme and I abide by that. India has a federal structure where the central government and the state governments run parallel. We are authorised to make a law which is repugnant to a Central law. I know if we send the draft to the Centre it will never come back,” he added.
Both the Congress and the BJP have agreed to support the jan lokpal bill only if it followed the “constitutional provisions”.