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Newly elected Delhi chief minister Kejriwal quits

Publication Date : 15-02-2014

 

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal resigned on Friday night after local legislators got together in the state assembly to block  his government’s bid to introduce his pet anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill in the House in defiance of the lieutenant-governor's advice against such a move.

Following a day of dramatic developments in the Delhi Assembly, the 45-year-old Kejriwal held a meeting of his Cabinet, where it was decided to resign and recommend to Lieutenant-Governor (LG) Najeeb Jung  the dissolution of the Assembly and holding of fresh elections.       

Kejriwal had already announced earlier that he would put in his papers if he fails to ensure the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill in the assembly. By sticking to his word, he has obtained a formidable issue for the upcoming Lok Sabha (parliamentary lower house) as well as the assembly elections, even as he projected himself as a political martyr for the cause of clean politics.

In his speech in the House, with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Congress members seeking to drown him out, Kejriwal launched a blistering attack on both parties, accusing them of ganging up against his government and its Jan Lokpal legislation because he had dared to file a First Information Report (FIR) a few days ago in the gas pricing matter against Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani and others like Union oil minister Veerappa Moily.  

Kejriwal alleged that for the last two decades there had been a “fixed match” between the Congress and the BJP in Delhi and “both parties were colluding to loot the people”.

Later, addressing cheering supporters from the balcony of his office building in pouring rain, Kejriwal announced the resignation of his government while calling upon the rank and file to gear up for future battles. Kejriwal echoed his allegations against the Congress and the BJP, accusing them of together “colluding” with their “corporate master, Mukesh Ambani" to bring down his government barely a couple of days after it filed an FIR against the RIL chief on the gas pricing “manipulation” issue. “The real face of BJP and Congress has been exposed... They defeated the (Jan Lokpal) Bill because three days back we lodged an FIR against Mukesh Ambani," he said.

By his own admission, Ambani was running the Congress-led UPA government for the last 10 years, Kejriwal charged. “Ambani has said the Congress is his shop and he can buy anything there whenever he wants it.”

He then attacked the Gujarat chief minister and BJP's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, alleging that Ambani had been behind him as well. “From where is Mr Modi getting all this money from? He is flying in a helicopter throughout the country. He is addressing huge, expensive rallies. From where does he get money for all these things,” Kejriwal asked.

He did not spare Jung either, dismissing his decision ~ that the Delhi government was not empowered to move a bill like Jan Lokpal in the assembly without seeking the approval of his office or the Centre as “wrong and improper”.  He wondered whether the LG thought he was a Viceroy running a government headquartered in London. 
Kejriwal repeated his position that the Delhi government does not require permission of the centre or the LG to introduce the Jan Lokpal bill in the assembly.

Both the Opposition BJP and the Congress, which had been supporting his government from outside, hit back at Kejriwal, rejecting his allegations and accusing him of “telling lies, distorting facts and misleading people”. BJP leader Harshvardhan and Delhi Congress president Arvinder Singh Lovely claimed that they supported the Jan Lokpal bill but wanted it to be moved in accordance with the laid-down constitutional norms and procedures. 

The Delhi assembly witnessed dramatic scenes during the day with BJP and Congress members demanding that Speaker M S Dhir should first read out the LG's message to him over the Jan Lokpal bill. Dhir subsequently read out Jung's communication, which made it clear that the Jan Lokpal bill being a money bill, the assembly should first get clearance from the Centre before its introduction in the House . 

However, shortly afterwards, Kejriwal stood up and tabled the Jan Lokpal bill in the teeth of fierce opposition from the BJP and the Congress.

Following uproarious scenes and two adjournments, the resolution seeking leave for introduction of the bill was put to vote and was defeated by 42 to 27.

Kejriwal subsequently gave clear indication that he would tender his resignation. “I will consider myself fortunate if I have to sacrifice the chief minister's post 1,000 times and my life to eradicate corruption... This appears to be our last session,” he told the House.

Both the Congress and the BJP slammed Kejriwal, charging him with “running away” from the responsibilities of governance after failing to fulfil his pledges to the people. “This was one government which was not having a mandate. It came by deceit. They formed an alliance which was immoral and full of internal contradictions. In their short regime, they displayed anarchy... and utter disrespect to constitutional system and institutions,” BJP spokesman Sudhanshu Trivedi said.

Sandeep Dikshit, Congress spokesman, said: “Kejriwal was looking at an excuse to run away. He tried to subvert the Constitution and was a smooth liar... He was never serious to govern and the exit of his government marks the end of a big drama.”

 

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