The Bharatiya Janata Party has activated its cadre in 21 Assembly constituencies of Delhi where the Aam Aadmi Party MLAs may get disqualified as they had been appointed as Parliamentary Secretaries by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
The party feels that byelections are “imminent” in these constituencies. “The President has turned down the Bill seeking exemption from disqualification. The Election Commission is looking into the matter. There is sufficient evidence against these MLAs and we feel that AAP government will not be able to protect them from legal scrutiny,” said a senior leader, closely monitoring the issue.
He said it is just a matter of time as to when they will be disqualified. “But I think it will not take more than six months for this to happen. As soon as this happens, byelections would be announced. The party candidates who had contested the Assembly elections last year, and also other aspirants, have started preparing for the possible byelection and are lobbying for tickets,” he added.
The party feels the byelections, if they happen, will be a good opportunity for it to increase its numbers in the Delhi Assembly. In the last Assembly elections, the BJP could win only three seats, whereas the remaining 67 were won by the AAP. No other party could win any seat. The BJP got 32.3% of the total votes, whereas AAP got 54.3%.
Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta said the law is clear and appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries by CM was without any authority. He said: “Kejriwal did not follow the Constitution. Disqualification of membership of the Assembly of these 21 Parliamentary Secretaries is the only solution. This is what Constitutional experts believe. We are ready for the byelections.”
Meanwhile, Congress, too, is optimistic about these seats. Senior leader Ajay Maken recently told reporters that most of these seats came under the influence areas of stalwarts like Mahabal Mishra, Arvinder Singh Lovely and Ashok Kumar Walia and expressed the hope that the Congress would become the second largest party in the Delhi Assembly after the byelections. He also hoped that the post of Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly will come to the Congress kitty.
President Pranab Mukherjee turned down AAP government’s Bill, which was passed by the Delhi Assembly on 19 June last year, to give exemption to Parliamentary Secretaries from disqualification with retrospective effect.
The new Bill says: “It is to declare that the office of the parliamentary secretary to the chief minister and ministers of the government of National Capital Territory of Delhi shall not be disqualified and shall be deemed never to have been disqualified for being chosen as, or for being, a member of Legislative Assembly of NCT Delhi. Accordingly it is proposed to amend the schedule.”