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Mamata for Kejri, Kejri pleads not for profit, what next?

Political parties either slammed the Election Commission or demanded the resignation of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday in reaction to the Election Commission’s recommendation to the President to disqualify 20 Delhi AAP MLAs for holding offices of profit as parliamentary secretaries. However, even if the MLAs are disqualified, AAP will continue to enjoy a comfortable majority in the Delhi Assembly.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee supported Kejriwal. She tweeted: “A Constitutional body cannot be used for political vendetta. The 20 AAP MLAs were not even given a hearing by the Hon’ble Election Commission. Most unfortunate. This goes against the principles of natural justice. At this hour we are strongly with @arvindkejriwal and his team.”

The Election Commission said the MLAs, by occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries between March 13, 2015, and September 8, 2016, held offices of profit and were liable to be disqualified as legislators.

The Congress demanded Kejriwal’s resignation. Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken said his party would launch a “Jan Andolan” from January 22, demanding the Kejriwal government’s removal. “Arvind Kejriwal has no moral right to be in power and he should resign. Half his cabinet ministers have been removed on corruption charges, and the remaining half are embroiled in corruption too. Twenty of his MLAs, who enjoyed ministerial perks, would be disqualified now,” Maken told reporters. The Election Commission, however, has recommended the disqualification of the MLAs.

Maken said Kejriwal, who won the election in Delhi on the anti-corruption plank, had used taxpayers’ money to provide benefits to the MLAs. “We are happy the Election Commission has taken this decision,” he said, recalling how in June 2016 the Congress had petitioned against 21 AAP MLAs for holding offices of profit.

Read | No due process, panel decided without hearings, ex-CEC frowns

The BJP too questioned the “moral right” of AAP to remain in power. Its spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Kejriwal government was now a “lame duck”. He cited corruption and criminal cases against AAP MLAs to claim that the party, which started its political journey from the India Against Corruption movement, has become “I am corruption”.

“The Constitution has shown the mirror to the AAP government which had become arrogant due to its numerical strength in the Delhi Assembly,” he said. Patra also said that AAP was heading towards becoming the “most corrupt” party. “Many of the Kejriwal cabinet members had to resign. Fifteen of their MLAs have cases against them and 12 were arrested under different charges. In this scenario, the biggest question before the people is whether the Arvind Kejriwal government has any moral right to remain in power,” he said.

Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari lauded the EC’s recommendation to the President, saying: “Arvind Kejriwal should take responsibility for moral defeat and resign.” He said the BJP was prepared for elections at any time.

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