Aam Aadmi Party on Friday termed the Election Commission as "biased." The party alleged that the poll body, in collusion with the BJP government at the Centre, is trying to destabilise the Arvind Kejriwal government.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday launched a fresh attack on the Election Commission. Addressing media in the national capital, party’s chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj termed the Election Commission as “biased.” The party alleged that the poll body, in collusion with the BJP government at the Centre, is trying to destabilise the Arvind Kejriwal government. “Country’s EC with Prime Minister is conspiring to destabilise the elected government in Delhi,” Bharadwaj said, adding that the party sees it as a “very dangerous sign.”
The statement came in response to a remark by S.K. Mendiratta, former legal advisor to Election Commission, who said that the poll body did not seek his opinion before the poll panel disqualified 20 AAP MLAs for holding “Office of profit.” Speaking to The Indian Express on Wednesday, Mendiratta said that he was “disappointed” with the EC’s order. “I was (working) on contract with them (EC). I have given them my opinion whenever it was sought. In this case (office-of-profit complaint against AAP), they did not feel the necessity of seeking my opinion. So I (have) just kept away,” said Mendiratta to IE.
Mendiratta further said to IE, “It’s no longer for me to say. The High Court itself has said that they (AAP MLAs) should have been called and given an opportunity to explain. Why they (the Commission) did not (give them that opportunity), I don’t know…I cannot sit in judgment over the Commission’s judgment. They (EC) have accepted High Court’s order.”
Lashing out at the poll panel, the party’s chief spokesperson further said, “Now it’s established that the EC is biased, if the advice was not taken from him (Mendiratta), it means that advice was coming from the Prime Minister’s office.”
The AAP leader also criticised former Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti and said that he was an IAS officer who was close to Narendra Modi when the latter was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Joti served as Principal Secretary in Finance Department of Gujarat government in 2006. He became Chief Secretary for a term of three years (from January 2010 to January 2013).
In its order dated January 19, the Election Commission recommended to President Ram Nath Kovind the disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs for holding “office of profit.” In its opinion to President, the poll body said that the lawmakers 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.
The President on January 23 accepted the EC’s recommendation. In a notification, the Law ministry, quoting the President, said, “In the light of the opinion expressed by the Election Commission (EC), the 20 members of the Delhi legislative assembly have been disqualified.”
Later on March 23, the Delhi High court called the EC’s order a violation of ‘natural justice.’ The court directed the poll panel to initiate fresh hearing in the case and ordered a stay on the disqualification of the MLAs.