Batting for a stern law for those elected representatives who resign at their own will without completing their term or go on to contest parliamentary elections despite being an MLA or vice-versa, Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Punjab president Bhagwant Mann Thursday said the Election Commission should recover the expenditure for ensuing bypoll from such politicians.
“I have decided to raise this issue in winter session of Lok Sabha. The Election Commission of India needs to bring in a stricter law for such MPs or MLAs who resign without completing their terms. Except for the death cases like that of Mukerian MLA Rajinish Kumar Babbi, public should not bear the expenditure of bypolls in cases where resignations are due to personal reasons or due to politicians contesting other polls despite being MPs or MLAs already. In such cases, ECI should recover the expenditure from them and public money should not be used,” Mann, the Sangrur MP, said.
He was addressing campaign meetings in several villages of Dakha where bypoll has been necessitated after senior advocate and then sitting MLA Harvinder Singh Phoolka resigned from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
Without naming Phoolka, Mann said that another solution to this menace is that ECI should make a rule that if an MLA or MP resigns without completing their term, the first runners up should be declared the winner. “In such case, no one will resign of their own free will as they won’t be able to tolerate that a person whom they defeated has now become the winner,” said Mann.
He said that it was unjustified that an MLA or MP elected by people goes on to contest another election without completing his or her existing term or sometimes due to their own personal reasons. “Were those people fools who first elected you and would now be forced to bear the bypoll expenditure,” he asked.
Phoolka had Wednesday told the Indian Express that he quit the Vidhan Sabha “to protest against inaction of Capt Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in sacrilege cases”. He had said that “some times such steps (resignation) need to be taken for a larger and bigger cause”. “I never advocate wastage of public money but the fact is that I had resigned in December 2018 hoping that bypoll would be held along with Lok Sabha polls in 2019,” Phoolka had said adding that he was not in touch with AAP Punjab unit and Mann never contacted him for any consultation on Dakha bypoll.
Tejpal Singh Gill, an AAP leader who contested 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Ludhiana, said that though Mann did not name Phoolka, but his statement certainly applies on him too as he resigned without completing his five year term. “It includes all those MLAs and MPs who resign or go on to contest other polls leaving people mid way. It applies on Phoolka ji too and also Sukhbir Badal,” he said.
Apart from Dakha, three other seats in Punjab are going to bypolls on October 21. The bypoll to Phagwara Assembly seat was necessitated after BJP’s sitting MLA Som Prakash got elected to Lok Sabha from Phagwara. Similarly, SAD president Sukhbir Badal vacated the Jalalabad seat after being elected to Lok Sabha from Ferozepur. Mukerian seat was vacated following the death of Congress MLA Rajnish Kumar Babbi.