AAP MLAs disqualified, Prez gives assent to EC recommendation

CEC Achal Kumar Joti

With the sword of disqualification dangling over the heads of 20 of its MLAs, the leadership of the ruling AAP in Delhi on Saturday huddled into a meeting to discuss the matter, while the BJP and the Congress smelling blood talked about bypolls in those constituencies. The Election Commission issues showcause notice to MLAs on the same day.

The MLAs who face axe are Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gehlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal Khufiya, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar, Nitin Tyagi and Jarnail Singh (Tilak Nagar).

MLAs, accused of holding the "office of profit", were disqualified from the Delhi Assembly on Sunday after President Ram Nath Kovind approved the Election Commission of India's (ECI) recommendation in the matter. "AAP will knock the doors of HC and even SC if the need be", said Delhi minister Gopal Rai.

Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken alleged that the EC "on the instance of" the BJP "helped" the AAP by delaying its recommendation by a month.

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In its opinion sent to President Kovind, the EC had said that the MLAs, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries between March 13, 2015, and September 8, 2016, held offices of profit and were liable to be disqualified as legislators, PTI had quoted sources as saying.

The EC, however, said that the disqualification is sub-judice, and it will not comment on what recommendation has been given to the President.

In June 2017, the EC rejected the MLAs pleas to drop the "office of profit" case against them and ruled that the disqualification proceedings against them will continue. With the disqualification of 20 MLAs, there is no immediate threat to the Arvind Kejriwal-led party as their majority will reduce to 46 from 66 MLAs, which is still a majority. Singh said that the Delhi High Court, while quashing the appointments, did not cancel the membership of any legislator.

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