AAP MLAs disqualification row: Party set to approach President, braces for bypolls

AP leaders said the meeting was held to chalk out the party’s strategy. Sources said Kejriwal’s message to the MLAs was to “prepare for bypolls” and guard against “attempts at poaching”, including from within.

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal | New Delhi | Updated: January 21, 2018 11:43:24 am
Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia  Saturday said the 20 AAP MLAs held guilty by the Election Commission of holding office of profit would appeal to the President to hear the party’s views.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia Saturday said the 20 AAP MLAs held guilty by the Election Commission of holding office of profit would appeal to the President to hear the party’s views, against the “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional” move. Under the law, President Ram Nath Kovind is bound by the EC’s view on matters of office of profit and, therefore, the disqualification of the MLAs seems inevitable. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) A K Joti, who is set to retire in two days, has refused to comment, citing the quasi-judicial nature of the proceedings.

CM Arvind Kejriwal held a meeting Saturday with the 20 MLAs, along with senior party members. AAP leaders said the meeting was held to chalk out the party’s strategy. Sources said Kejriwal’s message to the MLAs was to “prepare for bypolls” and guard against “attempts at poaching”, including from within.

Reiterating that the MLAs had not been given a chance to present their point of view, Sisodia said, “This opinion that the EC appears to have given is unconstitutional, wrong and undemocratic. Our 20 MLAs are asking the President for time and they will go and convey to him that if such an opinion has come from the EC, then it is a very biased opinion, against the principles of natural justice… done without hearing our side.”

He said legislators would appeal to the President to “send the opinion back to the EC and ask for a hearing”. He claimed that the order was a “BJP conspiracy” aimed at disrupting the party’s “key upcoming policies” and that it was attempting to stop governance by “pushing Delhi into elections”.

A source said, “The message was clear: ‘Prepare for the worst’. Different outcomes were discussed. We are hopeful that the court or the President will see our side, but are also preparing for the poaching process to start.”

Sources said Kejriwal also told the 20 MLAs to renew efforts on the ground in their respective constituencies. The meeting also discussed “six dissident” AAP leaders, sources said.

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