The AAP-dominated Delhi assembly Friday passed a resolution demanding that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi be stripped of the Bharat Ratna, alleging that he had justified the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bhardwaj later said the original resolution circulated among party members did not contain the part on Rajiv. “Malviya Nagar MLA Somnath Bharti added the line on his own. It was his demand,” he said.
But official sources confirmed that the entire text of the resolution, including the part on the former PM, has gone into the assembly records as being passed. “There is no confusion. The resolution, introduced by Tilak Nagar MLA Jarnail Singh, stands passed in its entirety,” the source said.
Sources in AAP said that disciplinary action has been ordered against Bharti and MLA Alka Lamba. “If Bharti had to propose an amendment to the resolution, he should have approached the Speaker. He just handed a note to Jarnail Singh, who read it out as part of the original resolution. Lamba caused confusion by talking about the resolution to reporters outside the House,” the source said. When contacted, Lamba told The Indian Express, “The party chief has officially asked me to resign. I haven’t so far but I am ready to do so in the morning. The party was in favour of passing the resolution asking for the return of the Bharat Ratna awarded to Rajiv Gandhi. I disagreed with that… I put out two lines (on Twitter). The party asked me to delete the two lines and I did…”
Bharti was not available for comment.
The text of the resolution, passed following a two-day discussion and amended at the last minute, states: “This House also resolves that the Bharat Ratna awarded to former PM Rajiv Gandhi, who justified the 1984 massacre, be withdrawn by the Centre.” The resolution comes amid speculation on the possibility of AAP and Congress reaching an understanding for the 2019 general elections.
Reacting to the resolution, Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken told The Indian Express, “It is unfortunate that such a resolution has been passed against a person who sacrificed his life for the country. It once again establishes that the AAP and the BJP are no different from each other.”
Although both parties have officially denied that they are in talks, multiple sources have confirmed that channels of communication remain open. Indications of a thaw had also emerged after Kejriwal and Congress president Rahul Gandhi shared the same platform during the Kisan Mukti March in the capital recently.
However, the Congress’s Delhi unit is learnt to be against an understanding with the AAP.
Incidentally, during the debate in the House, BJP MLAs Manjinder Singh Sirsa and Vijender Gupta pitched for a separate resolution mentioning the need for all the members of the House to “dissociate themselves with the Congress”, in an apparent jibe at the purported talks between AAP and Congress.
Sirsa also demanded that widows of 1984 riot victims staying in colonies be granted freehold rights and at least one member from every such family be given a job by the Delhi government. “I will resign from the House if it is not done,” he said.
Terming the riots as genocide, the resolution directed the Delhi government to impress upon the Ministry of Home Affairs to take all steps to include crimes against humanity and genocide in India’s domestic criminal laws.
“This House resolves that special fast track courts be set-up for time-bound trials in all pending 1984 riots cases, since 34 long and painful years have already elapsed, during which many victims have already passed away and the remaining witnesses are already in advanced stages of their lives,” it added.
Sources said that to withdraw the resolution, AAP will have to move and adopt a new one.