Aam Aadmi Party and Bharatiya Janata Party legislators were holding overnight protests on the Delhi Assembly premises on Monday, amid an ongoing war of words between the two parties on allegations of corruption.
Hours after the AAP announced its night-long sit-in against the Lieutenant Governor, BJP MLAs also started an overnight dharna on the assembly premises demanding the sacking of ministers Manish Sisodia and Satyendar Jain over alleged corruption.
The AAP said its MLAs will camp overnight at the Vidhan Sabha premises to press for a probe against Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena for allegedly pressuring two of his employees to exchange demonetised currency notes worth Rs 1,400 crore during his term as the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) chairman in 2016.
The development came days after Saxena recommended a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into alleged corruption in the implementation of the Delhi Excise Policy 2021-22 and the AAP's accusations that he was 'interfering' in the Delhi government's work.
Holding placards, the AAP MLAs squatted near the Mahatma Gandhi statue, while BJP MLAs started their sit-in near the statues of Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev inside the assembly premises.
In a statement by the BJP, Leader of Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri said the party MLAs have been forced to sit on the dharna since they were not heard in the assembly.
All eight MLAs of the BJP were not part of the proceedings of the Delhi Assembly's special session on Monday and Friday as they were marshalled out of the House.
The BJP said it will approach President Droupadi Murmu to raise the issue of the Assembly being used by the AAP government 'to abuse the Centre'.
A notice of discussion was given by Vijender Gupta on the classroom scam, Abhay Verma on the liquor scam, Mohan Singh Bisht on the crisis of drinking water and Ajay Mahawar on the removal of Sisodia and Jain from the cabinet, the party said.
Deputy speaker Rakhi Birla rejected their demand for calling attention motion.
Bidhuri said that the Kejriwal government is mired in allegations of corruption and if it is clean, why is it running away from discussion on these issues in the assembly.
"Obviously, it has no answer to these allegations. There is no discussion on the matters of Delhi in the assembly, no question hour, no short-term discussion is held under Rule 55, nor the issues of its own area can be raised under Rule 280.
"The Kejriwal government is using the Delhi assembly only and only to abuse the central government. The issues being discussed in the assembly have nothing to do with Delhi," he said.
While crores of rupees are being spent on the assembly session from the tax collected from the people, the ruling party is only using it for politics, Bidhuri said.
He said that they will go to the President with this matter and 'tell her how democracy is being throttled in Delhi'.
"BJP members will also meet the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and request him to try to make it a rule that there must be at least three sessions of the Legislative Assembly in Delhi in a whole year and their duration should not be less than 10 days.
"Right now, only one-day-long sessions are being called and only the central government is being criticised in it, nothing is being talked about on the issues of the people," he claimed.
During the House proceedings earlier in the day, AAP legislators trooped into the well and demanded Saxena's resignation, besides a probe by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the allegations against him.
In its statement, the BJP said its MLAs were 'expelled unconstitutionally' from the Delhi Assembly again on Monday and 'no issue was allowed to be raised'.
"The meeting of the BJP Legislature Party was held this afternoon under the chairmanship of Leader of Opposition Ramvir Singh Bidhuri and it was decided that the BJP MLAs would sit on a dharna near the statues of Shaheed Azam Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev inside the assembly premises.
"This protest will continue throughout the night," it said.
Bidhuri alleged that Sisodia was involved in the multi-crore liquor 'scam' and noted that minister Satyendar Jain is in jail in a money laundering case.
'BJP MLAs have decided to sit on a dharna demanding the sacking of these two ministers. Since their voice was not heard in the assembly, they are forced to sit on a dharna inside the assembly premises,' the leader of the opposition said.
The BJP also came out in Saxena's defence and said AAP leaders are levelling corruption allegations against him 'to take revenge'.
Based on the LG's recommendations, the CBI had registered a first information report (FIR) in connection with the alleged irregularities in the formulation and implementation of the Delhi government's Excise Policy 2021-22.
The agency also raided the residence of Sisodia, who also holds the excise portfolio and is an accused in the case.
Last week, Saxena sought a report from the chief secretary over a delay of more than two-and-a-half years in acting on a Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) report on an inquiry into the construction of additional classrooms in Delhi government schools.