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AAP in damage control mode after seeking to revoke Rajiv Gandhi's Bharat Ratna

Last updated on: December 22, 2018 20:31 IST

The Aam Aadmi Party was on Saturday busy dousing the controversy over the Delhi assembly resolution on 1984 anti-Sikh riots, with its leadership asserting that the resolution did not demand revoking of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's Bharat Ratna and party MLA Alka Lamba was not asked to resign for opposing reference to the Congress leader.

IMAGE: Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia and AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj address the media. Photograph: Arun Sharma/PTI Photo

The Bharatiya Janata Party latched onto the issue to attack AAP, demanding that Arvind Kejriwal's party clarify "what is its first priority, justice for Sikhs or understanding with Congress".

The Congress too was unpacified as it sought an apology from Kejriwal and withdrawal of the resolution.

Amid the row, Delhi assembly speaker Ramniwas Goel clarified that MLA Jarnail Singh's proposed amendment for taking back the "Bharat Ratna" from Gandhi over the 1984 ant-Sikh riots in the "original resolution" was not adopted as he did not inform the House beforehand.

The "original resolution" had no mention of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's name, he said.

 

AAP's Chandni Chowk legislator Lamba, who had earlier tweeted that she has been asked to tender resignation for opposing reference to Gandhi, on Saturday said she was happy with the party's stand and would not quit.

The Delhi assembly had on Friday adopted by voice vote the resolution which called for speedy trial of cases and termed anti-Sikh riots as genocide. AAP MLA Jarnail Singh, while moving the resolution, had said the Bharat Ratna to Gandhi should be withdrawn for "justifying anti-Sikh riots". Singh had later said that the resolution was adopted.

But the ruling Aam Aadmi Party had swiftly distanced itself from the reference to Gandhi saying it was not part of the original text, after it evoked a sharp response from the Congress.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Sisodia made it clear that the Aam Aadmi Party has no intention to seek withdrawal of Bharat Ratna awarded to Gandhi.

He rejected claims that Lamba has been asked to resign for not supporting the reference to Rajiv Gandhi and said, "Neither any resignation has been sought (from Lamba) nor is anyone resigning."

Separately, Lamba also said, "I am not resigning."

"I am extremely happy that the party (AAP) has supported Bharat Ratna given to late Rajiv Gandhi by people of the country.This country will never forget the unparalleled sacrifice of Rajiv Gandhi. I am removing the resolution that was not passed in the Assembly," she tweeted.

The developments come in the backdrop of reported talks between AAP and the Congress for a tie-up for Lok Sabha elections. However, when asked about it, Sisodia responded, "Kaun sa samjhauta, kaun sa gatbandhan? (What agreement, what alliance?)"

Sisodia referred to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and 2002 Gujarat riots to hit back at the Congress and the BJP for attacking the AAP over the issue.

"I just want to make one request to Ajay Maken ji and Vijendra Gupta ji. Those whose hands are tainted in blood from the 1984 and 2002 riots should better keep quiet in this matter. Those who do politics of blood should not say anything," he said.

Sisodia said the lines about Gandhi were not part of the original resolution placed before the House. It was a handwritten amendment proposed by a member and it cannot be passed in such a manner, he added.

"The aim of the original resolution, moved by MLA Jarnail Singh, was only to help the victims of 1984 riots get justice. No resolution mentioning late PM Rajiv Gandhi was passed in the assembly as being reported in the media," Sisodia said.

AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj, who narrated the entire sequence of events in the assembly, clarified that any amendment to a resolution can become a part of the original only after it has been separately voted on by the House, which did not happen in this case.

"There was no mention of Rajiv Gandhi in the original resolution. It was an individual handwritten proposal by MLA Somnath Bharti," he said.

When asked what action will be taken against Bharti, Sisodia said the party will speak to the MLA.

Amid the confusion over the resolution, Bharti had said the reference to Gandhi "was not part of the passed resolution" as the amendment was not put to vote separately. The party had no opportunity to see the same, he had said on Twitter

"I confirm that the line was not part of original resolution distributed to MLAs n it was me who suggested the line as an amendment n passed on to Sri Jarnail Singh Ji(sic)," he had tweeted.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari said if no such resolution was passed, then why is the AAP denying it now. "It is an example of drama politics of AAP ," he said. Union minister Vijay Goel alleged the controversy has "exposed the two-faced character of the AAP".

BJP leader in Delhi assembly Vijender Gupta claimed Kejriwal has "joined hands with the Congress" and wants to go back on the resolution.

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken demanded an apology from the AAP convener, on the issue. Sharing a video of Assembly proceedings on Friday, he said, "The resolution was passed by the AAP in Delhi Assembly".

"Presiding over is the speaker of Delhi assembly, who was a BJP MLA in the 1st Delhi Assembly in 1993. Will not rest till Kejriwal apologises and withdraws this resolution! Call a special session," he tweeted.

Objecting to reference to Gandhi, Maken said Rajiv Gandhi sacrificed his life for the country and the true colours of AAP which is the "B team of BJP" has come out.

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