New Delhi, Feb 15: The AAP launched a nationwide anti-corruption drive Saturday, a day after Arvind Kejriwal quit as Delhi chief minister. The BJP shied away from forming an alternative government while the Congress said that the AAP regime failed as it strayed “beyond the constitution”.
Lt.Governor Najeeb Jung has forwarded the resignation of Kejriwal to President Pranab Mukherjee, an official said Saturday.
Kejriwal, 45, quit Friday after his AAP’s efforts to introduce the Jan Lokpal bill aimed to curb corruption was stalled by the BJP and the Congress. The AAP government lasted 49 days.
A day later, Kejriwal said: “I wasn’t in a hurry to resign, it was a message to the voters that we wanted to keep the corrupt out.”
He also refuted allegations by the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that they were not given enough time to study the Jan Lokpal bill. “They are lying… we were ready to give them more time,” he said.
BJP’s former chief Nitin Gadkari, who had been in-charge of Delhi polls, said: “We don’t have the numbers so we are not considering forming a government (in Delhi).”
Sheila Dikshit, who ruled Delhi for 15 years, said the AAP government failed because it started to go “beyond the constitution”.
But a day after leaving power, the AAP went into an overdrive Saturday.
Intending to clean up “a corrupt system”, the party kicked off its ‘Jhadu Chalao Yatra’ across 24 states Saturday, a party statement said. The Jhaadu (broom) is the election symbol under which the over an year old party fought the Delhi assembly election, bagging 28 seats.
With the party’s sights now set on the Lok Sabha elections, the week-long ‘yatra’ (journey) will be organised at over 2,500 places in 332 constituencies across 24 states.
The journey is essentially a “clean-up drive against corrupt politicians, criminals and rioters in the Parliament”, the statement said.
The party also said that they will start a nation wide anti-corruption rally, led by Kejriwal, from Haryana’s Rohtak district – the home district of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress – Feb 23. Assembly elections in Haryana are scheduled for later this year.
AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said: “The second rally will be held March 2 in Kanpur…”
Yadav justified Kejriwal’s resignation, saying the AAP has set a precedent as a government that is willing to quit.
“AAP was formed to contest election on several principles, one of the foremost being the Jan Lokpal bill,” he said.
“As we were not allowed (to introduce the bill) and it became clear that in this assembly, it was impossible for AAP to even introduce the bill on Jan Lokpal, the party complimented Arvind Kejriwal for taking a clear decision of resigning,” he added.
Echoing his view, AAP leader and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan said the party had no option but to quit after the Jan Lokpal bill was rejected in the Delhi assembly.
“Our biggest responsibility was to form a corruption-free government and run it, but if the BJP and the Congress are not letting us pass the bill, then what is the point of us staying in power,” he said.
He said that as the BJP and the Congress were unlikely to form a coalition, Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung has no option but to dissolve the assembly.
The BJP, which emerged as the single largest party by winning 31 seats in assembly elections, held a meeting Saturday to discuss the party’s future course of action.
State president Vijay Goel said that the party would launch an agitation at Jantar Mantar Feb 18 to expose the AAP.
“This (resignation) was scripted and planned…,” Goel said.
On forming the government in Delhi, Goel said: “We don’t want to comment on it right now but even if elections take place tomorrow, we are ready.”
The Congress, which with its eight lawmakers had helped prop up the AAP to reach the halfway mark in the 70-member assembly, blamed the AAP for its fall.
“Though AAP tried to tackle Delhi’s problem, but I don’t think they succeeded because they started going beyond the constitution… and that is when they really failed,” said Dikshit.
She said the Congress supported the AAP government, thinking they will fulfil all the people-friendly points and promises made in the past and in their their party manifesto.
Asked if the Congress was expecting early assembly polls, Dikshit said that it was for the Lt. governor to decide.