Disqualification of 20 AAP MLAs Smacks of Political Bias

The President of India has disqualified 20 MLAs of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi, implementing a recommendation of the Election Commission (EC). This action smacks of political bias, and adds to the already mounting questions about the credibility and impartiality of institutions like the Election Commission.

The MLAs were appointed as legislative secretaries in 2015. The AAP argued that since the appointments were set aside by the Delhi High Court in 2015, the EC could consider the question to be void. But in June 2017, the EC announced that the case would continue. However, the EC did not hear the case for several months, and its decision now, on the eve of the Chief Election Commissioner’s retirement, raises questions about its timing and the transparency and impartiality of the EC’s process.

The fact remains that states like Rajasthan, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Punjab are able to appoint MLAs as parliamentary secretaries, by enacting laws to save such posts from disqualification. Delhi also sought to amend the Legislative Assembly (Removal of Disqualification) Act in 2015 to allow MLAs to hold posts of parliamentary secretaries, but the amendment was denied approval by the Lieutenant Governor and the Central Government. The withholding of the Amendment proposed by the Delhi Assembly and now this wholesale disqualification of MLAs both amount to a deliberate undermining of the Delhi Assembly and the people of Delhi who elected these MLAs.

The BJP is desperate to usurp power in every state. In the North-East it has been engineering large-scale defections to install its governments through the backdoor. In Bihar, it subverted an emphatic anti-BJP mandate and captured power thanks to the open bias of the Governor and the stunning betrayal and capitulation of Nitish Kumar. And now in Delhi, where the BJP had suffered its worst drubbing in the Modi era it is trying to create an opening and crawl back to power through wholesale disqualification of MLAs.

The CPI(ML) condemns the EC’s decision to disqualify the MLAs which is not only disprop but is also blatantly biased and discriminatory. The CPI(ML) also appeals to the people of Delhi to rise against this undermining of democracy and foil the BJP’s bid to subvert the people’s mandate and usurp power by conspiratorial means.