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EC sought disqualification claiming they had held offices of profit by occupying parliamentary secretaries’ position

President Ram Nath Kovind has approved the Election Commission’s recommendation to disqualify 20 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)  MLAs from the legislative assembly – paving way for a possible by-election in Delhi. EC had conveyed its recommendation to the President on Friday.

In a notification issued on Sunday, the law ministry quoted the President saying, “In the light of the opinion expressed by the Election Commission (EC), the 20 members of the Delhi legislative assembly have been disqualified.”

Election Commission had sought disqualification of the 20 AAP MLAs, claiming that they had held offices of profit while occupying the post of parliamentary secretaries from March 13, 2015 to September 8, 2016.

As per the President’s approval, the ousted AAP Members of Legislative Assembly include: Alka Lamba, Adarsh Shastri, Sanjeev Jha, Rajesh Gupta, Kailash Gehlot, Vijendra Garg, Praveen Kumar, Sharad Kumar, Madan Lal Khufiya, Shiv Charan Goyal, Sarita Singh, Naresh Yadav, Rajesh Rishi, Anil Kumar, Som Dutt, Avtar Singh, Sukhvir Singh Dala, Manoj Kumar and Nitin Tyagi.

However, the latest blow at Delhi’s ruling party won’t pose an immediate threat to the Arvind Keriwal government – which has 67 MLAs in the 70 member House. Still, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress cited moral grounds to demand resignation from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Earlier on Saturday, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia termed the EC recommendation as “undemocratic” and “unconstitutional and stated that the party MLAs would appeal to the President to hear against the action. Sisodia further said that the party will move the court on the matter as the EC didn’t give them an opportunity to explain their stand in the case.

“There was no hearing; we were not given a chance to explain our stand. We appeal to the President to hear our view too, MLAs will meet President also,” said Sisodia.

Further accusing the EC of “discrimination”, AAP national spokesperson Sanjay Singh, addressing a press conference on Saturday said, “How could the Election Commission recommend disqualification of the 20 AAP MLA as the Delhi High Court had said they are not Parliamentary Secretaries? In other states, wherever the Parliamentary Secretaries were appointed, they were given the status of minister of state and all facilities were given to them. However, this was not what happened in Delhi, even then discrimination is happening with us.”

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