Just 49 days after the people of Delhi entrusted the Capital to Arvind Kejriwal and his promise of clean governance, the Aam Aadmi Party chief pulled the plug on his own government over its failure to table its flagship Delhi jan lokpal bill in the assembly. This would place Delhi under President’s rule for the first time since 1993.
Arvind Kejriwal appeals for jan lokpal bill in the Delhi assembly on February 14, 2014. (Sushil Kumar/HT photo)
"I can give away the chief minister’s chair a thousand times for a strong lokpal in Delhi and for the Constitution of the country. My cabinet has decided that we are quitting. Here’s my resignation letter. I’m going to the lieutenant governor’s office to hand it in,” the 45-year-old chief minister told supporters at the AAP office in central Delhi.
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“The BJP and Congress united to prevent the jan lokpal bill from being tabled,” he said, adding that the two had joined hands after his government started registering criminal cases against former Congress chief minister Sheila Dikshit and industrialist Mukesh Ambani.
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Earlier in the day, as the government tried to table the bill without the necessary central approval, the Congress and BJP had come together to block it —prompting Kejriwal to say, “It seems to be our last session.”
The decision to quit is part of AAP’s bigger strategy. It hopes to paint the Congress and BJP as the villains of the piece who did not let his government fulfill its promises, and is banking on the people to bring it back to power on its own. The time-out would also give the party the space it needs to plan its strategies and campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, which are just around the corner.
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In the seven weeks since its stunning victory in the assembly polls, the Kejriwal government has come in for heavy criticism over a series of stand-offs with the authorities — including its law minister’s ‘vigilante’ action against Africans and the CM’s own dharna demanding greater control over the police.
“As far as Kejriwal’s resignation is concerned, it is a scripted drama,” said Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely. “We would have certainly supported the jan lokpal bill if they had got necessary approvals first. How could we let them bypass constitutional provisions?”
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“Kejriwal and his ministers were never serious about governance,” added the Congress’ Ajay Maken.
The BJP, too, called the day-long drama “scripted” and said Kejriwal had “failed miserably”.
Later at night, Kejriwal met lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung to hand in his resignation, recommending dissolution of the House and fresh elections. The L-G, however, may not go by his recommendation and was expected to seek the President’s advice on the issue.
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