Yo Diary

Appeal To President To Hear Us, Says AAP In Office Of Profit Case

NEW DELHI:Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party on Saturday described the Election Commission's recommendation to

"We are seeking time to meet the President. The legislators will meet him and present evidence to support their case," Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced after the 20 legislators set to lose their seat met his boss, Arvind Kejriwal. Mr Sisodia said the Election Commission's recommendation was "unconstitutional and undemocratic" because the legislators were not given an opportunity to defend the charge that they had violated the office of profit provisions. This is also against the principles of natural justice, he said.

Lawmakers, under the office of profit provisions, cannot hold any post in the government that entitles them to perks or powers unless a law has been passed to exempt the posts. If someone complains and the Election Commission finds that a particular office held by a legislator qualifies to be an office of profit, the lawmakers stand to lose their seats. In 2015, someone did complain when Chief Minister Kejriwal appointed 21 lawmakers as parliamentary secretaries after the AAP swept the elections with a crushing majority, capturing 67 of the 70 seats. The idea was to involve legislators in running the government and flew in the face of the principle of separation of powers between the executive and legislature. Later when the AAP government attempted to duck the office of profit provisions by enacting a law to exempt these posts, the BJP-ruled central government spiked the bill.

The AAP government reasons that this rejection was blatantly unfair and inspired by politics, not the Constitution, because many other states including Delhi had in the past made such exemptions. In 2006 also, the Congress government-led by Sheila Dikshit had also pushed a similar law through the assembly. "How could the centre clear that bill but reject the one sent by the AAP government," asked Delhi Minister Gopal Rai. Launching an all-out attack on Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr Rai also alleged that the disqualification recommendation was Mr Joti's "parting gift to PM Modi". Mr Joti retires on Tuesday.

"The disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs was his gift to PM Modi. What is the reason for this gift? Why has he called for MLAs suspension just a few days before his retirement? Aam Aadmi Party and the country want to know this," the senior leader said, rubbishing claims that the AAP MLAs were given multiple chances to appear before the Election Commission and said that lies were being spread.

The ruling AAP has a giant majority in the 70-member Delhi assembly with 66 seats and the disqualification will not endanger the Arvind Kejriwal government. It will come down to 46 seats, still comfortably across the half-way mark at 35.