Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of indulging in political vendetta and said the BJP is “scared” of AAP and unable to digest its defeat in Delhi.
On Monday President Pranab Mukherjee refused to sign a bill that allowed the 21 MLAs to hold a second paying position as parliamentary secretary, paving way for their possible disqualification.
“Modiji says that Sonia Gandhiji isn’t allowing the Parliament to function because she can’t digest defeat. Want to ask Modiji, is he not allowing Delhi government to function because he is unable to digest defeat in Delhi?,” Kejriwal told ANI.
The Constitution prohibits legislators or Parliamentarians from holding any positions with monetary or other benefits. This clause — known as office of profit — is aimed at reducing conflict-of-interest situations for public representatives.
Rashtrapati Bhavan sources said the Union home and law ministries told the President that the Delhi government bill — allowing the MLAs’ appointment as parliamentary secretaries and exempting them from office-of-profit regulations retrospectively — violated existing laws.
“The President has withheld his assent to the bill and it has been conveyed to the lieutenant governor,” said a home ministry spokesperson.
On Tuesday, Kejriwal questioned why similar action was not taken in other states like Haryana, Nagaland, and Rajasthan which too have parliamentary secretaries.
“There are Parliamentary Secretaries in Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, West Bengal and across the country. Those in Punjab get Rs 1 lakh per month, car and bungalow as well. But they have not been disqualified. Why only Delhi? Because he (Modi)is scared of Aam Aadmi Party,” he added.
“The file probably doesn’t even go to the President. All this work is done in his name. But this decision is taken by MHA, he said.
The AAP government fumed at the development, saying that no MLA received any benefits — vehicles, bungalow or extra money — from the parliamentary secretary position.
“Modi ji doesn’t respect democracy. He is only afraid of AAP. Modi ji says neither I will work, nor will allow others to work,” Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Monday evening as the party called an emergency meeting.
If the MLAs are disqualified, it will be a major setback for Kejriwal, who stormed to power two years ago on an anti-corruption plank but has repeatedly clashed with the Centre over officers’ appointment, files and governmental jurisdiction.
The election commission is expected to take a final call on the disqualification issue. The MLAs have already responded to notices sent by the poll panel after lawyer Prashant Patel complained to the President and EC, sources said