With a complaint being lodged against Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, 52 MLAs of the ruling AAP Sunday created high drama as they marched to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s residence to “surrender” him but they were detained more than a kilometre away.
The MLAs, including six ministers, were detained for violating prohibitory orders around 7 Race Course Road residence of the Prime Minister, a high security area.
The police, which asserted that they would take action against anybody violating the law, detained them outside Race Course Metro station and took them to the Parliament Street police station. They were released after some time.
Aam Aadmi Party has 67 MLAs in the House of 70.
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The latest confrontation between AAP government and the Centre was triggered over a complaint against Sisodia by the traders of Ghazipur market that he had threatened them. This came close on the heels of arrest of AAP MLA Dinesh Mohaniya on charges of molestation and sexual harassment on Saturday.
“I had just gone to tell Modi ji that let us work for the people of Delhi. If you are fond of arresting us then do it. Before they ask the police to arrest us, we said you have enmity against the MLAs. Arrest us. But don’t obstruct the work of Delhi,” said Sisodia who led the march.
After his release, he said, “We (AAP MLAs) all went together. If you (PM) want to do politics of sending us to jail then we will all come to you. Send us to jail together. At least the Delhi Police can nab the rapists. Which is why we went, but they detained us.”
Earlier, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted, “Complaint filed against Manish Sisodia yesterday. Manish will go to 7, RCR today to surrender himself before PM.”
The decision to take out a march to the Prime Minister’s residence was taken a meeting of Legislators called by Kejriwal this morning. It was attended even by Delhi Assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel and his deputy Rakhi Birla.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju termed the act as “a drama”. He said the people of Delhi have given the AAP a mandate to work but Kejriwal was indulging in “theatrics”.
Sisodia, while attacking Modi, referred to 14 Bills that have been returned by the Centre which said procedures were not followed in passing these legislations.
The Deputy Chief Minister had said on Saturday that he had gone for a surprise inspection at Ghazipur Mandi where some people were running “illegal business” and they registered a complaint alleging that he had threatened them.
“I am sure that Modiji will tomorrow convert this complaint into accusations like violence, eve-teasing a girl and extortion and get me arrested,” he had stated.
Talking about the incident, Special Commissioner of Police (North) S B K Singh said the president of Ghazipur Aadhti Association had given a letter at Ghazipur Police Station stating that Sisodia adopted a “dictatorial attitude” on hearing their grievances during his visit to the market.
“He (the complainant) was worried that Sisodia could get something wrong organised due to his position. However, no police action is made out in the matter,” he said.
Sisodia said although the AAP MLAs were detained, he and his party colleagues were “ready to go to Tihar Jail”.
On Saturday, he had tweeted, “Modiji, your enmity is with us. Arrest us. But do not stop the work of Delhi. We all are coming to surrender before you”.
Justifying action against the MLAs, Special Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) M K Meena said, “We are not concerned with any party or any person holding whatever position. We will take action against whoever violates the law.”
Seeking to differentiate between the cases of arrest of Mohaniya and compliant against Sisodia, Special Commissioner (Law and Order) Taj Hassan said the complaint received against Sisodia “does not involve any cognizable offence”.
In Mohaniya’s case, Hasan said, complaint was cognizable, and the statement of the woman was also recorded in front of a magistrate and he was not joining the investigation.
Transport Minister Gopal Rai said the Modi government has give rise to an emergency like situation in Delhi and things are happening in a “planned manner to obstruct” the working of Delhi government.
“When a BJP MLA indulges in hooliganism, he is not arrested. There is no action against those whose name cropped up in the M M Khan murder case, but AAP is targeted,” he said.
Rijiju said it is better not to react against Kejriwal’s charges.
“We are so busy in running the country. The people have given us a chance to service the country. Arvind Kejriwal and his associates do drama all the time, the way he brings out things using theatrics? Does he have no work?
“The people of Delhi have given them a mandate to work, but he is missing out on it and indulges in drama. If we start responding to every question of Kejriwal then we will have to stop working. PM is so busy. He is always thinking of what to do for the country. If we start acting like these dramebaaz then who will work for the country,” Rijiju said.
The AAP said despite the party winning an unprecedented mandate the Centre’s “constant interference” in the working of the Delhi Government and their “attempt” at creating obstacles along the way, shows the Prime Minister’s “vindictive attitude” towards his opponents.
“This anti-people policy of the Centre reached its zenith this week as the Ministry of Home Affairs returned all the important Bills passed by the Delhi Vidhan Sabha over the past year-and-a-half.
“No further evidence is needed to prove the Centre’s sinister role in scuttling all progressive initiatives of the Delhi government,” the party alleged in a statement.
Justifying Sisodia’s act of warning traders yesterday, the AAP said he found “illegal activities” being carried out in the Ghazipur Sabzi Mandi.
The party said Delhi Police once again “vindictively” registered the complaint of “dishonest businessmen” against the Dy CM for doing his job.
“The Dy CM and all AAP MLAs decided to surrender before the Prime Minister to protest the blatant misuse of the Delhi Police. The AAP’s appeal to the conscience of the Prime Minister is straightforward: The PM’s grouse is with the AAP, and not the people of Delhi.
“He (Modi) can direct his Police to arrest all party leaders and Ministers, but he should allow the Government to function normally,” the statement said.
It said that when the Education Department asks for land to build schools, he (Modi) should grant it, when the Chief Minister requests the support of an “honest” officer like Sanjeev Chaturvedi, he (PM) should allow Chaturvedi to serve the people.
“When Delhi Assembly sends Bills to the Home Ministry for approval, he should respect the mandate given to this Government, and approve the Bills immediately. His attitude towards the AAP should not be at the cost of the interests of Delhi’s citizens,” the party said.
Senior leader of the AAP and member of the PAC Sanjay Singh said, “It is such a mockery of democracy that on the anniversary of the Emergency, India’s current Prime Minister has decided to arrest all his opponents and suppress the voice of the electorate.
The party said that even as the PM invoked the Emergency in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address, his Police was carrying out his real ‘Mann ki Baat’, and arresting all your opponents who were peacefully protesting outside his residence.
Delhi is witnessing an unprecedented situation where in there is an “Undeclared Emergency,” it said.
“The AAP appeals to the Prime Minister to reconsider his policy of blocking of all developmental works of the Delhi Government and getting AAP MLAs arrested. The people of Delhi are suffering because of the Centre’s petty, partisan and vendetta politics,” the party said.
Terming Mohaniya’s arrest as “arbitrary”, “illegal” and politically motivated, it said “How can the Police swoop in on a press conference and pick up an elected public official as though he were a dangerous criminal on the run?”
“Less than two weeks ago, 4 BJP Councillors were caught on camera assaulting an AAP Councillor in broad day light. What action has PM Modi’s Police taken against them, despite there being evidence?,” it said.