NEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party’s attempt to a put a lid on the controversy over the Delhi Assembly resolution recommending that Rajiv Gandhi be stripped of his Bharat Ratna backfired on Saturday. As AAP leaders, including Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, denied that the resolution was passed, a video of the Assembly proceedings surfaced that nailed the party’s lie.
As the recommendation evoked sharp reactions from the Congress, a defensive AAP leadership on Saturday claimed that the original resolution moved by party MLA Jarnail Singh, which called for speedy trial of the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases, did not refer to Rajiv.
AAP spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj claimed the reference to Rajiv was an individual handwritten proposal by MLA Somnath Bharti. But it was the original resolution — which did not refer to Rajiv — that was passed with a voice vote, party leaders said. The party claimed the amendment wasn’t put to vote and hence could not be said to have been passed.
However, video clippings of the Assembly proceedings, shared by Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken on Twitter, show Jarnail Singh reading out the amendment proposed. The Speaker Ram Niwas Goel is then seen saying, “The matter raised by Jarnail Singh is a very serious issue. I would like that we all stand up and vote on this resolution.” All the MLAs present in the House are then seen standing up and Goel declares that “the resolution is passed”.
Both the Congress and the BJP latched on to the issue to corner the party. While Maken demanded an apology from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and withdrawal of the resolution, the BJP asked the ruling party to clarify whether its priority was “justice for Sikhs or understanding with the Congress”.
The AAP was also forced to do internal firefighting over the issue as party MLA Alka Lamba alleged that she was “put under pressure” to support the resolution, which she resisted and boycotted the Assembly proceedings after which she was asked to resign by Kejriwal. Sisodia dismissed the charges and said no resignation has been sought. Lamba, too, did a U-turn later and said she was not resigning.
Embroiled in a controversy after a resolution asked for taking back late former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Bharat Ratna, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) insiders on Saturday said it was in ‘bad taste’.
The development comes at a time when there have been talks about a ‘Mahagathbandhan’ (grand alliance), in which AAP might be negotiating with the Congress and due to this it could be in jeopardy.
Although the party has denied on record that talk of an alliance is just a creation of the media, sources state that senior party leaders on both the sides were making some progress for being part of a Grand Alliance, where many other parties with similar ideologies would come together to defeat their political opponent.
AAP, however, has denied being part of any one-to-one alliance with the Congress party in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led party feels it has a solid chance to win a majority of the Lok Sabha seats.
But a possibility for coming into a grand alliance was on the way, but the developments of Friday when party members demanded from the Delhi government to pressurise the Central government to withdraw India’s highest civilian honour ‘Bharat Ratna’ from former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which was bestowed on him posthumously.
According to party insiders, Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991, still holds an emotional attachment with people and also that it was unnecessary to rake up the memories of a person who is dead.
“This issue will definitely make the negotiations harder with the Congress. Therefore it is crucial to take the action and make some amends in the public so that wrong message can be nipped in the bud. Any negotiation that will happen, will happen only on the terms of vote share of the parties in the three states,” said an AAP leader.
Party also wanted to take action against AAP MLA Alka Lamb for not towing the line when the resolution was being passed but could not because questions within the party were raised as to why similar action should not be taken against Jarnail Singh and Somnath Bharti. Lamba who is a former Congress party leader and has represented Chandni Chowk constituency is a seat where reportedly Congress leader Kapil Sibal also wants to fight Lok Sabha elections from. An alliance with AAP may help in Congress fielding Sibal and bettering its prospects of winning the constituency.
- On Friday, Aam Aadmi Party brought in a resolution wherein it was stated that trial for 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases be speeded up and the Centre term it as a ‘genocide’
- However, one of the AAP legislators brought in an amendment, which is said to be not part of the original resoultion, wherein it was added that former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s Bharat Ratna be taken back. This divided the party too