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AAP plans assembly session at Ramlila Maidan; Cong miffed

While the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government firmed up its decision to hold an assembly session at Ramlila Maidan, political parties, including the BJP and Congress, called the move 'a mockery and waste of money'.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2014 07:52 IST
Neelam Pandey
Neelam Pandey
Hindustan Times

The Delhi government on Thursday firmed up its resolve to hold an assembly session at Ramlila Maidan by January-end or February first week to pass the janlokpal bill. But the unprecedented move may run into trouble with both the opposition BJP and Congress accusing the government of making a mockery of the system.

“How can assembly function from Ramlila Maidan? This is not a meeting of their party that they can hold it anywhere. It will be a sheer waste of money too,” said the BJP’s Harsh Vardhan, leader of the opposition in the Delhi assembly.

“They have become khaas (special) from aam (common). Such sessions should not be held outside the assembly and will only result in wastage of public funds. Once we receive information on this, we will take a decision,” said Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh.

The government had on December 28 conducted its oath-taking ceremony at the iconic grounds where it had first started its fight against corruption two years ago. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had spent Rs. 45 lakh on that event.

Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday set up a committee to fast-track the framing of the first draft of the janlokpal bill — promised in AAP’s manifesto. The first meeting of the committee — to be chaired by chief secretary SK Srivastava and comprising the finance, home and urban development secretaries and AAP member and lawyer Rahul Mehra — will be held on Friday.

“We have formed a committee that will be ready with the first draft of the bill by January 15. By the last week of January or first week of February, we will hold the assembly session at Ramlila Maidan,” the chief minister said.

While the BJP and Congress expressed reservation over the move, expert opinion was divided. “It is ultimately for the House to decide (where to hold a session) since it is supreme, but such an unprecedented move may lead to complications and would be against the dignity of legislative business,” said former Lok Sabha secretary general Subhash Kashyap.

“There are 38 legislatures in India and in their 65-year history, no one has held an assembly session in an open ground. The rules of procedure of the Delhi assembly clearly state that session can take place in the precincts of the House, which includes the assembly halls, deputy speaker’s room, galleries, committee rooms, library, etc.

Without amending the rules, how can they hold a session at Ramlila Maidan? If proceedings have to take place there, the land and police need to be under the control of the speaker, which is not the situation,” said SK Sharma, former secretary of the Lok Sabha and Delhi assembly.

The police, too, aren’t too happy with the prospect of an assembly session at Ramlila Maidan and are worried about security arrangements, sources said.

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