The Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday claimed it was being “victimised” as its 20 MLAs face disqualification for holding offices of profit, even as it asserted that the party was “not afraid of elections”.
In a blow to the ruling party, the Election Commission had on Friday asked President Ram Nath Kovind to disqualify 20 of its MLAs, setting the stage for their ouster from the assembly.
The Commission said the party MLAs, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries between March 13, 2015 and September 8, 2016, held offices of profit, and were liable to be disqualified as legislators, highly-placed sources said.
AAP Delhi unit chief Gopal Rai alleged that the poll panel failed to give the party a hearing before sending its recommendations to the president.
“It is an undemocratic step. They are taking revenge from people of Delhi, the government and the chief minister of Delhi,” he said.
The AAP leader said the appointment of parliamentary secretaries had come up in various other states including Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana and Rajasthan, but only AAP was “being targeted”.
“This is double standard. Doesn’t the Constitution apply to all? We are being victimised. It is worse than the British Raj,” he said.
The case of disqualification of AAP MLAs is up for hearing at the Delhi high court on Monday.
“We will go to all democratic fora seeking justice,” he said.
“They talk of holding an office of profit... the Delhi government has not given a single penny to any of the parliamentary secretaries or even a chair, let alone any office space,” Rai claimed.
Underlining the AAP’s connect with people, the party’s Delhi unit chief said, “We are not afraid of elections. People decide our destiny”.
Rai said the issue was not “merely that of parliamentary secretaries” but the very “credibility” of democratic institutions, which he alleged was “being compromised”.
The AAP leader announced that a state-level meeting would be convened at its office on Sunday to chalk out a plan for launching a mass agitation against the ongoing sealing drive in the city and the Foreign Direct Investment.
“We will take to the streets in large numbers for the traders, who are being harassed, first through demonetisation, then GST implementation and now the sealing drive,” Rai added.
Kumar Vishwas terms office of profit case as ‘unfortunate’
Aam Aadmi Party leader Kumar Vishwas on Saturday termed the disqualification of 20 of its MLAs for holding the office of profit as ‘unfortunate’ and ‘sad’.
“It’s very unfortunate and sad that the Election Commission has recommended 20 Aam Aadmi Party MLAs be disqualified from the Delhi assembly for holding offices of profit. I had given certain suggestions earlier but I was told it’s the CM’s prerogative to appoint people so I kept quiet,” Vishwas said.
Vishwas said that he has also been removed from various WhatsApp groups of the party.
However, petitioner Prashant Patel in the Aam Aadmi Party MLAs’ office of profit case has expressed satisfaction over the ECI’s recommendations.
-- With inputs from Agencies