New Delhi: The Election Commission's recommendation to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs gave a ray of hope to the beleaguered Congress and BJP in Delhi as they were quick to demand the resignation of Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister.
The poll panel's recommendation to the president gave fresh ammunition to the two opposition parties to target Arvind Kejriwal's AAP which emerged as a big political force seeking to fight corruption and bring probity in politics.
Both the Congress and the BJP, which suffered badly in the AAP surge that almost wiped them out in the last assembly polls, said they were ready for elections.
The Congress was routed with none of its candidates being elected while the BJP managed to win only three seats. The BJP won another seat in the bypolls later.
The disqualification of 20 MLAs will not threaten the AAP government as it has 66 MLAs in the 70-member Assembly and would continue to be in majority even if these lawmakers are disqualified.
Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said Kejriwal has no "moral right" to continue in power and should resign. He also said the Delhi Congress will launch a 'Jan Andolan' from 22 January demanding the Kejriwal government's removal and expose him on the issue of corruption, on which he contested and won elections.
"Arvind Kejriwal has no moral right to be in power and he should resign. Half of his cabinet ministers have been removed on corruption charges and the remaining half are embroiled in corruption too. Twenty of his MLAs, who enjoyed ministerial perks, would be disqualified now," Maken told reporters.
On the other hand, Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari lauded the EC's recommendation to the president, saying it is a "moral defeat" for Kejriwal and that he should resign.
He said the BJP stands prepared for elections any moment.
"We welcome the EC decision disqualifying 20 AAP MLAs. Arvind Kejriwal should take responsibility for moral defeat and resign," he said.
Maken said the Delhi Congress was ready for polls and held a meeting with its former MLAs representing these seats to gear up for fresh elections. He said Congress leaders have represented some of these seats 4-5 times and the party is prepared for elections.
He said the Congress will launch a protest from 22 January by holding 'dharnas' in each of these 20 constituencies to "expose the double standards" of the Kejriwal government.
"We are happy the Election Commission has taken this decision," Maken said, recalling how in June 2016 the Congress has petitioned against 21 AAP MLAs for holding offices of profit.
"Where is Lokpal? The MLAs and ministers enjoying perks of power and foreign travel — Where is political probity?," he tweeted.
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!
Where is Lokpal?
The MLAs and Ministers enjoying perks of power and foreign travel-Where is political probity?
— Ajay Maken (@ajaymaken) January 19, 2018
He said the entire exercise conducted by the EC on the issue would have gone waste had Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti not given the verdict now as he would have retired as has former CEC Nasim Zaidi.
Election Commissioner OP Rawat has already recused himself from the issue.
The EC on Friday recommended to the president the disqualification of 20 of AAP MLAs for holding office of profit. The recommendation came as a blow to the ruling party in Delhi, after recent electoral setbacks.
In its opinion sent to President Ram Nath Kovind, the poll panel has said that by being parliamentary secretaries, these MLAs held offices of profit and thus, were liable to be disqualified from the Delhi Assembly, sources said.
The president is bound to go by the EC's recommendation.
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.
Updated Date: Jan 19, 2018 22:48 PM