Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Arvind Kejriwal says will quit if Jan Lokpal Bill not passed

Bringing the Jan Lokpal bill to contain corruption was a key election promise made to the voters by his Aam Aadmi Party. (AP) Bringing the Jan Lokpal Bill to contain corruption was a key election promise made to the voters by Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party. (AP Photo)
Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: February 9, 2014 9:41 pm | Updated: February 10, 2014 8:29 am

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Sunday that he would resign if the Jan Lokpal Bill fails to pass in the Assembly. “The Jan Lokpal Bill is very important for me. If it is not passed in the Delhi Assembly, I will resign. Jan Lokpal Bill ke liye 100 CM ki kursi kurbaan (I can sacrifice the CM seat a hundred times for the Bill),” he said.

On Saturday, Kejriwal had said that he would “go to any extent” to ensure passage of the Bill. Over the last week, the BJP and Congress have opposed the Bill, citing its “unconstitutionality”. The Aam Aadmi Party also hopes to get the Assembly to pass the Swaraj Bill, another of its key poll promises opposed by other parties. The Bills would be tabled in the Assembly on February 15 and 16, respectively, the CM said.

In a House of 70, AAP’s strength has been reduced to 27, including the Speaker, after its MLA Vinod Kumar Binny was expelled from the party. The Congress has eight MLAs and the BJP 32.

Late on Sunday night, a PTI report quoted Anna Hazare as saying: “He (Kejriwal) should resign if the Bill is not passed, he should do that.” Hazare added that while he had not seen the Bill draft, “What he (Kejriwal) said is good. When I see the paper, I can tell more. But whatever he has told me sounds good.”

Hazare said so after a meeting with Kejriwal, who called on the activist at Maharashtra Sadan. At an Idea Exchange session of The Indian Express on Saturday, Hazare had said that he could not take a call on whether he would unveil the Jan Lokpal Bill as he didn’t know what it contained.

At their meeting, Kejriwal said, he had apprised Hazare of the provisions of both the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj Bills and reiterated his threat to resign. “I was not here for any political purpose. He (Anna) was my guru and he is my guru,” the Delhi CM said. 

Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia and AAP political affairs committee member Sanjay Singh were present at the meeting with Hazare. Earlier, the political affairs committee of the party said AAP stood firmly behind Kejriwal on the issue of the Jan Lokpal Bill and, if required, the government should be sacrificed for it.

“We discussed both the Jan Lokpal and Swaraj Bills in detail and also told Anna that these were the same drafts which we had agitated for in the past,” Singh said. However he refused to confirm whether Hazare had agreed to unveil the Jan Lokpal Bill draft.

Asked whether he would support Kejriwal’s agitation in case he resigns, Hazare said he would not be able to speak on the issue now. “I do not wish to get involved in politics with AAP and Congress. We will wait and watch AAP’s further action.”

The Congress has indicated that it may not support the Jan Lokpal Bill, instead choosing to abstain. “Any Bill that has financial implications needs the approval of the Union government and AAP does not want to take the Centre’s approval. We have vowed to support the AAP government, but will not allow anything unconstitutional or illegal,” a senior party leader said.

The Swaraj Bill intends to decentralise power by segregating the city into 2,700 mohalla sabhas, which will have functions ranging from the cleaning of roads to public vaccination and inoculation, issuing of solvency certificates, preserving heritage and even promoting compassion toward animals. The Bill also intends to do away with MLA development funds.

Earlier on Sunday, at an interaction with PTI editors, Kejriwal said he would contest the Lok Sabha elections “if a need arises”. Asked whether he could end up becoming the prime minister, he said: “You can make any prediction. Who knows?”

Kejriwal, however, reiterated that he had no ambitions of holding the top job. “If a need arises, I would contest, but my first commitment is to Delhi,” he said.

Kejriwal added that AAP would put up candidates in Lok Sabha constituencies from where “corrupt” candidates of other parties are contesting, and that number could be 150, 200, 250 or 350.

“We are not saying our party will form the government at the Centre… but the more our people are elected, more it will be difficult for corrupt people,” he said.

In the case of a hung verdict in the Lok Sabha, Kejriwal said, AAP would not go with any political party or be part of “power politics”. “We will live, fight and die, you will see,” he said.

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