Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government on Tuesday found itself facing twin troubles. While on one hand Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai resigned citing health reasons, the party’s 21 MLAs face disqualification following President Pranab Mukherjee rejection of Delhi government Bill to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the office of profit.
Rai’s resignation comes amidst corruption charges against him, but AAP government has cited health reasons for his decision. Satyendar Jain will take charge as Transport Minister for now.
Gopal Rai had on Monday said he was “ready to go to jail” if corruption was proven in the city government’s app-based premium bus service scheme. The service couldn’t take off following allegations that a particular aggregator was favored.
Meanwhile, the refusal by the President to give assent to the dual office bill puts a question mark over the membership of the 21 AAP MLAs, who were appointed Parliamentary Secretaries.
The Delhi Government had sought an amendment to the Delhi Members of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act, 1997 through which it had sought “retrospective” exemption for the parliamentary secretaries from disqualification provisions.
The Bill was forwarded by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung to the Centre, which in turn was sent to the President with its comments.
AAP on Monday held an emergency meeting to deliberate on possible situation if 21 of its MLAs appointed as Parliamentary Secretary lose membership of the Delhi Assembly on the ground of holding office of profit as a city government brought bill to give them immunity was rejected by the President.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reacted sharply to the development and targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that he does not respect democracy and was only fearful of the AAP.
The meeting presided over by Kejriwal deliberated on President Pranab Mukherjee refusing to give assent to the Bill to exclude the post of Parliamentary Secretary from the office of profit.
At the meeting, many AAP leaders were severely critical of the Centre as they said President rejected the Bill on the recommendation of the Modi government.
Kejriwal took to Twitter to express his anger. He said no MLA was given a single paisa, car or bungalow in their capacity as Parliamentary Secretary and said they were giving services for free.
“Modiji says all of you sit at home. Should not work,” he said adding MLAs were tasked to look after power supply, water supply, functioning of hospitals and schools.
“Modiji says neither will work nor will allow to work,” Kejriwal said.
On its part, BJP has hit out at Kejriwal for questioning the credibility of the President’s office, and accused him of being “obsessed” about attacking PM Modi for no rhyme or reason.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Kejriwal was “frustrated” that his flying ambition has crash-landed and asked him not to make the President’s decision a “political issue”.
“Office of the President of India and the Election Commission are independent institutions with great credibility. You (Kejriwal) have certain political ambitions, rightly so under a democratic system, but for god’s sake don’t demean the credibility of the President of India because in the end you are demeaning the democracy of this country,” Patra said.
Congress has also trained its guns on the AAP government, questioning its credibility. Congress leader Ajay Maken said, “In a year half of AAP government’s cabinet has resigned. What credibility is left of the Kejriwal government?”
(With inputs from PTI)