A day after saying he can go to any extent on the Jan Lokpal bill, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government will quit if the party's flagship Jan Lokpal Bill is not passed.
"Jan Lokpal Bill is more important than staying in government. We will quit if it is not passed. The government will fall if the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj bills are not passed," Kejriwal said at a session on the third day of the Delhi Literary Fest.
The Swaraj Bill will be passed by the Delhi cabinet on Tuesday and tabled in the assembly on February 13th, while the Delhi Lokpal Bill 2014 will be tabled in a special session of the assembly on February 16, he said.
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Kejriwal had on Saturday threatened "to go to any extent" over the Jan Lokpal Bill, which is opposed both by the Congress, whose continued support is essential for the survival of his government, as well as the BJP.
Explaining his government's stand on the bill, the chief minister said, "They said the Union government's clearance is needed. Then why are we elected? We are asking for removal of corruption, they are saying no to it. The law is for the people and not vice versa."
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Asked what happens if the Congress does not support the bills, he said, "Let them not pass (the bill), people will teach them a lesson. We would have liked to carry out a referendum on this issue but it won't be possible this time. But we will go back to people and come with 50 seats."
Reiterating that article 239 of the Constitution says that Delhi government cannot pass any laws regarding law and order, police and land, he said, "What the home ministry has done is unconstitutional. I swore on the Constitution and not the home ministry."
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Earlier in the day, the AAP's Political Affairs Committee (PAC) member Sanjay Singh said Jan Lokpal and Swaraj are "party's commitment" and that the party will stand by what Kejriwal decided, Sanjay Singh, PAC member said.
The biggest hurdle in the passage of the bills is getting lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung’s nod. It ran into controversy when the L-G sought solicitor general’s advice on the constitutionality of the bill.
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On Friday, senior AAP leader Ashutosh had called the L-G ‘an agent of the Congress’, lamenting why the correspondence between the L-G and the solicitor general was leaked to the media.
The Congress assessment says that since Kejriwal has “failed to implement his promise of cheap water and electricity” to Delhi residents, he is looking for an “escape route” and could step down, taking the “moral high ground” on the jan lokpal issue.
The Congress has maintained that it won’t withdraw support to the AAP, at least till the Lok Sabha elections, despite “repeated provocations”, like the recommendation of a SIT probe into the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and asking the anti-corruption branch to lodge an FIR in the Commonwealth Games scam, aimed at implicating former CM Sheila Dikshit.
The BJP, on the other hand, believes that the Kejriwal government will fall under its own weight of creating unrealistic expectations, which it has failed to deliver.
The AAP, however, feels that its “goodwill” among the Delhi voters has strengthened due to its “uncompromising” stand on corruption. The party’s says it will win around 50 seats if fresh elections are held in Delhi along with the Lok Sabha elections.
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