An unfazed Arvind Kejriwal launched a fresh offensive against the BJP and Congress on Wednesday, citing precedents since 1953 to defend 21 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) legislators facing disqualification for holding dual paying posts as parliamentary secretaries.
Kejriwal addressed a press conference to target the two political rivals over the issue that has led to a fresh confrontation between the AAP government and the Narendra Modi government.
The fate of 21 AAP MLAs, appointed as parliamentary secretaries, hangs in balance after President Pranab Mukherjee refused to give his assent to a bill passed by the Delhi assembly last year seeking to insulate the legislators from the purview of the office-of-profit law.
The Constitution prohibits legislators or parliamentarians from holding any positions with monetary of other benefits.
“Former chief minister Shahib Singh Verma appointed BJP MLA Nand Kishore Garg as his parliamentary secretary on May 7, 1996. Sheila Dikshit appointed Ajay Maken, who is now criticising the government, as parliamentary secretary,” said the visibly agitated chief minister who has had several run-ins with the Centre over officers’ appointment, files and governmental jurisdiction since storming back to power last year.
“Then it was constitutional and when we do it, it turns out to be unconstitutional.”
The Delhi government also made public copies of orders by previous governments appointing the parliamentary secretaries, appointed in many states by the ruling parties to rehabilitate legislators without portfolios.
In 1953, Delhi had three parliamentary secretaries in HKL Bhagat, Kumari Shanta Vasisth and Shiv Charan Dasgupta, Kejriwal said adding that the 21 parliamentary secretaries are the “eyes, ears and hands” of the AAP government who have been tasked with important duties.
“They are highly qualified people in different fields, starting from MBA to engineering and not illiterates like in other parties. Mohalla clinics are product of their hard work. They are helping in mapping of schools for infrastructure improvement, visit hospitals to help patients.”
Reacting to the charges, Maken accused the Delhi chief minister of concealing facts.
“He named several parliamentary secretaries appointed in Delhi including HKL Bhagat to Nand Kishore Garg to me. Even after counting names since independence, he couldn’t recall more than 5-6 names,” Maken said.
“He (Kejriwal) also didn’t clarify that both the BJP and Congress governments appointed parliamentary secretaries to the chief minister and not ministers.”
Nand Kishore Garg, appointed during the BJP government in 1997, said he was “was the parliamentary secretary to the CM and not to the government”.
“For my tenure of 10 months, I never enjoyed any perks.”