Four adjournments in two hours, two opposition leaders marshalled out, and protests by both AAP and BJP on the ongoing sealing drive by the BJP-ruled civic agencies marked the Delhi Assembly session on Monday. Eventually, the Speaker summoned the commissioners of the civic agencies to address allegations raised by the AAP — of Rs 1,000 crore being collected by agencies as conversion fee since 2007.
During the session, AAP MLAs reached the well of the House, raising slogans against the BJP and accusing the party of being anti-trader. The four BJP leaders held a counter-protest, carrying placards that read: “AAP, stop the drama on sealing. Notify 351 roads.”
After the fourth adjournment, when MLAs gathered in the House at 4.19 pm, the drama refused to die down. As Kasturba Nagar MLA Madan Lal started his address, the opposition kept interrupting his speech.
Minutes later, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia stood up and responded to BJP’s allegations: “Please tell them that we will expose the BJP’s role on how they have cheated traders on these 351 roads. If you have the courage, sit here in the Assembly.”
Despite repeated assurances by Speaker Ram Niwas Goel that the issue of 351 roads will be discussed, the opposition continued their protests. Goel called marshals to take Leader of Opposition Vijender Gupta and BJP-SAD MLA Manjinder Sirsa out of the House.
“The opposition is running away from discussion. I have been listening for two-and-a-half hours… This is goonda-gardi. You are not letting the Minister (Sisodia) talk…,” Goel said.
For the next two hours, the session saw seven AAP MLAs address the House, each of them elaborating on problems faced by traders in their constituencies due to the ongoing sealing drives. They also raised concerns about the “anti-trader” policies of the BJP-led Centre — from demonetisation to GST.
AAP MLA from Greater Kailash Saurabh Bhardwaj alleged, “First, they gave traders a setback through notebandi and then GST… For 12 years, they have been collecting conversion charges. We have RTIs which show that Rs 1,000 crore has been collected as conversion charges. Where is this money?”
He further urged the Speaker: “Call all three MCD commissioners to the assembly day after tomorrow and ask them — where have you spent Rs 1,000 crore? If you have not spent it, come up with a plan in the next 15 days on how this money will be spent… I have RTI records which show that all that money has been diverted under the garb of loans and this money never came back.”
AAP MLA from Malviya Nagar Somnath Bharti claimed that “this entire sealing drive shows how a policy paralysis has happened”. Lal, under whose constituency the SDMC conducted a sealing drive at Defence Colony market, said the civic body’s measure “is throttling the traders”. He also questioned why the BJP, which has been in power at the MCD-level since 2007, was silent on the issue till now.
Gandhi Nagar MLA Anil Kumar Bajpai said the sealing drive had led to a loss in employment for people in his constituency. “If this kind of sealing is not stopped and no solution is provided, there might be a law and order problem,” Bajpai said.