New Delhi: The minority Aam Aadmi Party government on Thursday crossed the first hurdle in the Delhi Assembly when its confidence motion sailed through easily with the backing of the members of Congress, JD(U) and an independent.
The motion moved by PWD minister Manish Sisodia was carried after a four-and-a-half-hour debate at the end of which Chief Minster Arvind Kejriwal appealed to the members to decide "on which side they are".
"I want to present three issues. Delhi`s aam aadmi (common man) has taken the lead in telling the country as to which direction the national politics should go.
"They should also decide as to which side they are in the fight between truth and honesty in politics and whether they want to participate in it," the Chief Minister said, in his 25-minute speech winding up the debate.
Promising to take stringent action against anyone corrupt whether in the previous Congress government, MCDs controlled by the BJP and his government, he said he was not seeking support of the members for his party or the government but for the issues facing Delhi.
At the end of the debate, pro-tem Speaker Matin Ahmad asked those in favour to stand up followed by those against.
Later, he declared the motion as passed and congratulated the Chief Minister before adjourning the house.
28 AAP members along with seven of Congress, a lone JD(U) member and an independent stood in support while 31 members of BJP and one member of its ally Akali Dal stood against it.
The fate of the motion was a foregone conclusion after Congress leader Arvinder Lovely declared that his party`s seven members would support the government and said the backing would continue as long as the regime works in the interest of the people, even for five years.
However, the BJP opposed the confidence motion and accused Kejriwal of compromising with the "corrupt" Congress for power and becoming silent on the corruption of the previous Congress government.
Replying to the taunts by the BJP that he has stopped
talking of the corruption of the Congress after taking support from it, Kejriwal said,
"I want to assure the house that anyone found corrupt whether those in the last 15 years of the Congress government or MCDs or our own government, we will take stringent action against them."
Giving a definition of who is an aam aadmi, he said that it was one who wanted to live honestly and by truth whether he is rich or poor.
"All of them can be called aam aadmi. Who were we, we were all outsiders, we were small people without any capability," Kejriwal said, adding the country`s politics is corrupt, it has been spoiled and abducted.
The politics has become corrupt because of criminalisation. Education, health and roads are in bad state because of corrupt politics, he said.
"We need to get together to cleanse the politics. We were challenged to enter politics, contest elections and make your own laws. The fight was impossible and there was zero possibility of victory and then we decided to take the plunge and cleanse politics.
"The leaders of big parties made the biggest mistake thinking where was the common man going to contest elections. Then we decided to contest elections. People used to make fun of us. Fourth and Eighth of December, a miracle happened. I was an atheist but now I realise there is God. People of Delhi proved truth can`t be defeated," he said.
Kejriwal said that the people of Delhi took the first step of showing the nation the direction in which the nation can be liberated from corrupt politics.
Listing 17 issues as priority of his government, Kejriwal
said ending the VIP culture in the capital and even the whole country and adoption of Janlokpal bill will figure among top of them.
The corrupt should be jailed at the earliest and get the strongest possible punishment within the framework of law. The Janlokpal should also have a Citizens` Charter under which services should be provided in a time frame.
The third priority will be be to bring a bring a legislation which will give the right to people to decide on development in their area and not officials and MLAs.
The next priority would be to realise full statehood for Delhi on which even the BJP agrees with AAP, he said.
Among the other things the government will concentrate on audit of power companies, checking the meters, supply of water, conferring right on the people of unauthorised colonies, problem of slums, opposition to FDI in retail, subsidy for farmers, improvement of government schools, regulation of fees and eradication of donations in private schools and improvement of hospitals.
On women`s security, the Chief Minister said that his government would work for creation of `Special Women`s Protection Force`.
Referring to the quick trial in the December 16 rape case, he said trials in such cases should be completed in three to six months and deterrent punishment should be given to those found guilty.
Referring to the need for improving the justice system, he said that the number of courts and judges should be increased.
Earlier moving the motion, Sisodia urged members to rise
above political affiliations and support the government in the interest of a new governance for the people of Delhi.
"We are not a party. We are representatives of people and urge the MLAs of all parties to rise above party lines and support alternative governance for the people of Delhi," he said.
Rejecting the charge of compromise, he said the people of Delhi gave AAP the "moral mandate" to form government though not the numbers. The `referendum` conducted by the party after the elections enhanced this mandate.
"We are here for development. We stand here to clean the politics of the country. We want to ensure that people in Delhi get clean water to drink and cheap electricity. We are here for the traders, farmers and youth of Delhi. We will improve the facilities for the people of Delhi," he said.
Opposing the motion, Harsh Vardhan attacked Kejriwal and his party for taking Congress support to form the government.
"A party which Kejriwal used to refer as the most corrupt party, the party against which he contested elections, the party against which he said that if elected to power he will send corrupt ministers to jail, and will unearth all unfair trades of that government, he has taken support of that party.
"Today the country wants to know what was his compulsion to form a coalition with the same party," said Vardhan.
Attacking AAP`s decisions on water and electricity soon after coming to power, Vardhan said the urgency shown by AAP in implementing populist measures is not reflected in taking on the corrupt.
Extending full support to the AAP government, Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely said his party could even continue to back the current dispensation even for five years if it worked in the interest of the people.
"Kejriwal ji, you keep making statements frequently that the government could go in 48 hours. I assure you today that as long as you keep taking decisions in the interest of people of Delhi, there is no threat to your government.
"And should the need arise, we will support you for full
five years so that you can give a good government. As long as we feel that decisions that you take will not halt development and there is no sense of injustice to the state, we will keep supporting you," Lovely said.
"Our party`s support will be there for you in whatever decision you take for development and in the interest of people," he said.
The Congress leader said that his party supported the government to avoid forcing another election on the people of Delhi.
Lovely, however, at the same time attacked the government over its recent decisions on enlarging the subsidy on power and free supply of water saying it was the House that can decide on shifting subsidy from one head to another and not the government.
"You are new to the government. The officials should have briefed you properly. The earlier budget had approved certain subsidies and that cannot be changed now. The House should have been involved. You have to fix accountability on the officials who misled you," Lovely told the Chief Minister.
He also wondered what promises the government will put on hold if it decides to give subsidy worth Rs 1300 crore.
Though caveating his response by saying that Congress does not want to begin its support to AAP on a negative note, Loverly said that even the free water decision of Government will not reach the intended beneficiaries and alleged that "water has become costlier" for Delhiites on the contrary.
He also told Kejriwal that his government should take "tough measures" against corruption irrespective of persons and departments concerned and that Kejriwal could definitely stumble upon it if MCDs ruled by the BJP are probed.
"When Kejriwal had talked about corruption of Delhi government, he had talked about MCDs as well. Something will be found out in Delhi government or not, it will definitely be found out in the MCDS," Lovely said.