Aam Aadmi Party came all guns blazing against Election Commission of India after the panel recommended disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs from Delhi Legislative Assembly. In an open attack at Election Commissioner AK Joti, AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj said the poll panel head was “repaying the debt” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi before his retirement. Bharadwaj added that the decision comes at a time when the Chief Election Commissioner is due to retire on January 23. Bhardwaj further said the EC recommendation defied “principles of natural justice”. He added that the poll panel did not hear the MLAs’ case. Also, he pointed out that official communication regarding the issue has bot been received by the party yet.
“A K Joti was the principal secretary under (the then Gujarat Chief Minister) Narendra Modi and then the chief secretary of Gujarat. He is retiring on Monday. So you want to repay Modi ji’s debt. You are mortgaging a constitutional post like the Election Commission,” Bhardwaj said.
Joti, an IAS officer of 1975 batch of Gujarat cadre, was appointed as an election commissioner in 2015.
This is not the first time when AAP has targeted the Election Commission. In past, Kejriwal-led party had hit out at the poll panel over alleged tampering of electronic voting machines. Bhardwaj had even given a ‘hacking’ demo in Delhi Assembly. “The hearing before the Election Commission was not about disqualification. The ongoing hearing was whether the Election Commission can hear the Office of Profit proceedings when the Delhi High Court has stated that they are not parliamentary secretaries,” Bharadwaj claimed. Senior AAP leader and National Spokesperson Ashutosh said Election Commission had never touched this low.
The Election Commission of India has reportedly disqualified 20 AAP MLAs in an Office of Profit case. The poll body has sent the recommendation to the President. In its recommendation sent to President Ram Nath Kovind, the poll body said that by being parliamentary secretaries, they held office of profit and were liable to be disqualified as MLAs of the Delhi Assembly, highly placed sources said.
The disqualification would mean AAP’s brute majority of 65 MLAs in 70 member assembly would be reduced to 45. Also, the state will be pushed to a mini-election.