New Delhi: In a massive setback to the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP party, the Election Commission on Friday reportedly recommended that 20 of its legislators should be disqualified for allegedly holding offices of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries.
The apex poll body made these recommendations to President Ram Nath Kovind.
Delhi's ruling party will now be approaching judicial authorities and is likely to appeal in the matter.
If cleared by the Office of the President, the disqualification would mean that of Arvind-Kejriwal led AAP's cabinet will be reduced to 47 from the existing 67.
While the President's decision remains to be seen, the disqualification may tarnish the image of a rather unconventional political party which came to power promising corruption-free governance.
Here are some quick reactions:-
Mayank Gandhi, former AAP leader
"It is time to go back. There is no danger to the Delhi government. AAP will be approaching the highest court and the authorities in the matter."
Vijender Gupta, Leader of Opposition
"It is a delayed action by the election commission. Now the ball is in the court of the honourable President of India."
Subramanian Swamy, BJP
Arvind Kejriwal and the company has come power only to loot people. He must resign now.
Twitters user also took pot shots at Delhi CM soon after news of likely disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs spread. Here are some of those reactions.
20 AAP MLAs Disqualified.
Angry about it?
Donate to AAP
— Ajit Prasad (@iAjitPrasad) January 19, 2018
20 AAP MLAs got disqualified by Election Comission for not guessing the right answer of "Who change Taimur's diapers?"
- Zoom TV
— Rohit Sharma (@imWrong45) January 19, 2018
What EC did to 20 AAP MLAs. pic.twitter.com/Jt8bZ9nnNO
— Deputy (@JhoothaChal) January 19, 2018
Pic1: Kejri burnt the paper of the order for disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs.
Pic 2: pic.twitter.com/UZEgkP3Alz
— Amit Choudhary (@iamitkc) January 19, 2018
— Randheer Thakur (@India_Se_Hu) January 19, 2018
— Aditya Tiwari (@adt007ad) January 19, 2018
The entire issue came into existence when on March 13, 2015, the Arvind Kejriwal government passed an order appointing 21 MLAs as Parliamentary Secretaries. This was challenged by Advocate Prashant Patel who petitioned President Pranab Mukherjee on June 19, 2015, that these MLAs were now holding ‘office of profit’ and should be disqualified.
The Delhi Legislative Assembly, then passed the Delhi Member of Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) ( Amendment Bill ), 2015 excluding Parliamentary Secretaries from “ office of profit’ with retrospective effect.
However, the President withheld assent to the amendment bill and referred the matter to the Election Commission.
The Congress had on June 9, 2016, moved the poll panel to seek disqualification of 21 AAP MLAs and has been pursuing the matter ever since.
Subsequently, the proceedings were dropped against Jarnail Singh after he resigned as the Rajouri Garden MLA to contest the Punjab Assembly polls in February 2017.
In October last year, the EC had issued a notice to the Aam Aadmi Party lawmakers for an explanation.
In June 2017, the EC rejected the MLAs pleas to drop the "office of profit" case against them and ruled that the disqualification proceedings against them will continue.
(With Agency inputs)