Delhi legislator Alka Lamba was asked to resign from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Friday as the row over a state assembly resolution aimed at withdrawing late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's Bharat Ratna over his failure to curb the 1984 anti-Sikh riots escalated.
The circumstances that led to their rift remain unclear. While the party claims that Ms Lamba was adamant on passing the resolution recommending the withdrawal of the late Prime Minister's award, the legislator says her decision to not support it angered party colleagues. "The party has asked for my resignation. I'm ready to resign but Rajiv Gandhi has sacrificed a lot for country and I didn't support the proposal of taking back his Bharat Ratna. I've been asked to resign because I stood against the decision of the party," news agency ANI quoted Ms Lamba as saying.
"I am ready to resign," she said.
The withdrawal of Mr Gandhi's Bharat Ratna was reportedly passed as an amendment to a resolution seeking justice for victims of the Delhi riots. However, the party later issued a clarification stating that the portion relating to the former Prime Minister cannot be considered a part of the resolution because it was "handwritten".
"Lines about the late Rajiv Gandhi were not part of the resolution placed before the house and distributed among members. One MLA in his handwriting proposed an addition/amendment about the late Rajiv Gandhi. Amendments cannot be passed in this manner," tweeted party MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj. Later, party MLA Somnath Bharti also weighed in on the matter. "I clarify that the amendment was not put to vote as an amendment and hence, there is no question of passing the same. Hope this answers the dispute conclusively," he tweeted.
The resolution passed by the Delhi assembly noted that "justice continues to elude" the families of the victims in what it termed as one of the worst genocides in the national capital's history. It asked the city government to impress upon the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that it should take all necessary steps to include crimes against humanity in the country's criminal laws, as recommended by the High Court in a recent judgment.
The Delhi Congress did not take kindly to reports of the resolution on Rajiv Gandhi, and responded by calling AAP the "B-Team of the BJP" that has finally shown its "true colours". The Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, is given in recognition of "exceptional service/performance of the highest order".
Ms Lamba, the legislator from Chandni Chowk, has long been at loggerheads with senior leaders in the party. In 2016, Ms Lamba was removed from the post of party spokesperson for allegedly straying from the party line on former state transport minister Gopal Rai. She is also known to have struck a different note from the party on the issue of electronic voting machines.