- The opposition has already sounded the election bugle
- Arvind Kejriwal tells Delhi voters AAP is victim of giant conspiracy
- AAP to hold day-long shutdown in Delhi on Tuesday
The Delhi High Court will hear AAP's appeal against the Election Commission's move today at 4 pm. If the High Court rejects the appeal, AAP will move the Supreme Court.
The opposition has already sounded the election bugle, and in the Delhi BJP office, names are being discussed of likely candidates for by-elections to the 20 seats that will be vacated if the AAP legislators are disqualified.
So even as Arvind Kejriwal takes the legal route, he is prepping for by-elections with a simple strategy -- appealing to Delhi voters that AAP is being singled out and is the victim of a giant conspiracy.
Sources close to the chief minister said Mr Kejriwal, in a private meeting with his 20 MLAs, told them not to be nervous. Elections on this issue will only land the BJP in a soup, he said, also hinting that the latest sealing drive by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) against unauthorised construction in the capital has businessmen annoyed with the civic body ruled by the BJP.
Soon after the meeting, AAP decided to hold a day-long bandh or shutdown in Delhi on Tuesday to protest against the sealing drive and the centre's move to allow 100 per cent foreign direct investment or FDI in retail.
AAP insists that its MLAs have not drawn any salary or perks as parliament secretaries and so these are not offices of profit. The party also argues that currently 11 states have legislators who serve as parliamentary secretaries including Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka, which are ruled by the BJP and Congress. Both the parties have relentlessly demanded the disqualification of the AAP legislators in Delhi arguing that the constitution does not allow elected representatives to hold offices of profit.
In Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Goa, the appointment of parliamentary secretaries was challenged and the appointments were annulled by the high courts, but the MLAs were not sacked. Earlier governments in Delhi, both that of the BJP's Sahib Singh Verma and Congress's Sheila Dikshit had parliamentary secretaries, then why is AAP being attacked, party leaders have asked.
AAP leaders also point out that if the MLAs who are also parliamentary secretaries in the other 11 states are disqualified, most of those governments will be in a minority and could fall, necessitating fresh elections. In Delhi, however, AAP has such a mammoth majority in the assembly -- 65 of 70 seats -- that even if it loses all 20 seats in by-elections, the party will be safe and well over the majority mark.