With the tabling of the jan lokpal bill in the Delhi assembly on Thursday looking highly unlikely, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal may make good his threat to resign.
The Union law ministry late on Wednesday said the Delhi government would have to take the prior consent of the Centre before tabling the anti-corruption legislation.
Seemingly prepared for a confrontation, the Aam Aadmi Party government insisted it was going ahead with its plans and also rejected lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung’s request to reconsider its decision to hold a special assembly session at Indira Gandhi Indoor stadium on February 16.
This prompted the Congress to accuse Kejriwal of “creating a situation to leave the government”.
Kejriwal had on Sunday threatened “to go to any extent” for the bill, even if it meant resigning. “The jan lokpal bill is more important to us 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,” he had said.
Delhi assembly sources said they were yet to receive the bill from the government and it was not on the agenda for Thursday’s proceedings, which have already been finalised.
Sources close to the CM, however, said the government was likely to make the Congress and BJP vote in the House on Thursday, the first day of the four-day special session, if they were ready to support the bill. “As promised to the people of Delhi, we will introduce the jan lokpal bill in the House tomorrow. We will ask the BJP and Congress to vote and tell us if they are ready to support the bill,” a senior AAP leader said requesting anonymity.
The Congress, which supports the government from the outside, and the opposition BJP maintained the government would be violating “constitutional provisions” by not taking the approval of the L-G and the Centre before introducing the bill in the House.
“Despite knowing that the move (to not obtain prior approval from the Centre) is unconstitutional, Kejriwal is trying to justify it. The Congress will continue to support the government, but Kejriwal is creating a situation himself to leave the government,” said Delhi Congress president Arvinder Singh Lovely.
Lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung had said in a statement on Monday that he would have to send the Delhi janlokpal bill to the President for consideration and grant of assent as many of its provisions overlapped with those of the lokpal and lokayukta act, 2013. Earlier on Friday, Jung had referred the matter to the law ministry for its “opinion on the constitutional position”.