Lawmakers' Disqualification Poll Commissioner's "Gift For PM Modi": AAP

In a press meet on Saturday, party leader Gopal Rai said that Mr Joti was Principal Secretary in Gujarat when PM Modi was the state's Chief Minister and he was PM Modi's closest officer.

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Lawmakers' Disqualification Poll Commissioner's 'Gift For PM Modi': AAP

Arvind Kejriwal has pitched the AAP as victim, the wronged party (File)

New Delhi:  A day after the Election Commission recommended the disqualification of 20 Aam Aadmi Party legislators in an office for profit case, the party attacked Chief Election Commissioner AK Joti and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that the move was Mr Joti's "parting gift to PM Modi". Mr Joti retires on Tuesday.

In a press meet on Saturday, party leader Gopal Rai said that Mr Joti was Principal Secretary in Gujarat when PM Modi was the state's Chief Minister and he was PM Modi's closest officer.

"The disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs was his gift to PM Modi. What is the reason for this gift? Why has he called for MLAs suspension just a few days before his retirement? Aam Aadmi Party and the country want to know this," the senior leader said, rubbishing claims that the AAP MLAs were given multiple chances to appear before the Election Commission and said that lies were being spread.

Mr Rai said that all notices given by the Election Commission were replied to by AAP's lawyers and added that even during the British rule people were heard before giving punishments.

"Nobody heard our version...even during the time of British a fake hearing was conducted but we were not given any hearing," Mr Rai said, adding that "everyone in the country has only one question on their mind: What was the compulsion for him to take the decision with only two days to retire".

On Friday, the poll panel recommended to President Ram Nath Kovind to disqualify 20 AAP MLAs or lawmakers for holding offices of profit as Parliamentary Secretaries, triggering calls for resignation of Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

"Arvind Kejriwal has no right to continue", said Ajay Maken, the Delhi Congress president who was also among the first to campaign against AAP lawmakers, accusing them of violating the constitutional provision. "Half of his cabinet ministers were removed on corruption charges. Now, 20 MLAs who were enjoying ministerial perks would be disqualified," Mr Maken said.

BJP's Sambit Patra also attacked Mr Kejriwal, saying, "15 AAP MLAs of have cases against them. Few are on bail and some of the MLAs are in jail. Shouldn't Mr Arvind Kejriwal resign?"

Mr Kejriwal pitched the AAP as the victim, the wronged party. "There are many obstacles when you tread a path with truth and honesty. This is natural. But all the powers, visible and invisible forces in the unaversive, held you. God is with you because you aren't working for yourself, but the country and society," he tweeted, hours after the Election Commission's decision.

"History is witness to the fact that in the end, truth prevails," tweeted Mr Kejriwal.

The ruling AAP has a giant majority in the 70-member Delhi assembly with 66 seats and the disqualification will not endanger the Arvind Kejriwal government. It will come down to 46 seats, still comfortably across the half-way mark at 35.

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The Elections Commission gave its opinion to the President on a complaint by advocate Prashant Patel, a member of the Hindu Legal Cell, in June 2015, who petitioned then President Pranab Mukherjee alleging illegality in the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries.

Six AAP lawmakers have attempted to prevent the poll panel from issuing the orders to disqualify them in a petition before the high court. The court agreed to hear the petition but had to put off the hearing to Monday after the Election Commission's lawyer could not confirm if the panel had sent its recommendation to the President.

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