CM firm on House sitting in stadium, oppn unsure

CM firm on House sitting in stadium, oppn unsure

Jan Lokpal Bill may be tabled today, say govt sources

Amid strong indications that the Jan Lokpal Bill will be tabled in Delhi Assembly on Thursday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal remained adamant that the House should hold at least one sitting in a stadium.

Kejriwal said Delhi cabinet decided to reiterate before Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung that it wants the House to meet in an open stadium when it passes the the anti-corruption bill. But reiterating their stand before Jung did not imply seeking permission from him,  AAP sources insisted.

Kejriwal told Deccan Herald, “The Lieutenant Governor’s role on the venue of the House sitting would kick in only when the proceedings are planned outside the premises. As long as the proceedings take place in the Assembly, the matter is between the cabinet and the Speaker.” “Now, we plan to seek the opinion of the House on organising the sitting in a stadium,” he said.

Opposition parties said they have been claiming the same – that the Chief Minister cannot take the decision about a House sitting in a stadium. “Only the Assembly members can take such a decision,” said Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely. 

Missing from agenda 

Till late evening on Wednesday, the agenda papers for Thursday’s sitting circulated among MLAs only talked about a bill on subsidies to private discoms. There was no mention of the anti-corruption bill or the Swaraj Bill.

Sources in CM’s office said there is hope for the tabling  the Jan Lokpal Bill on Thursday itself as any proposed legislation can be brought on the agenda of the House even two hours before the sitting, which is scheduled to begin at 2 pm. 

The Kejriwal cabinet’s discussion on the draft Swaraj Bill remained inconclusive on Wednesday. It will be taken up at a fresh cabinet meeting at 11 am on Thursday. Jung had asked Kejriwal to review the decision to hold a sitting in a stadium as Delhi Police had expressed reservation over providing security for it. Education Minister Manish Sisodia said it was difficult to believe that police were finding it difficult to provide security at a stadium for just four-five hours.

The Congress and BJP slammed the Kejriwal government for using the anti-graft bill to whip up frenzy. Leader of BJP Legislature Party Harsh Vardhan said, “Kejriwal wants to run away from his responsibilities, but we will not let him do so.”

Haroon Yusuf, leader of the Congress Legislature Party, said, “For the past two weeks, Kejriwal has been talking about a sitting in IGI stadium on February 16. Now, the agenda for the session indicates that even the sitting on Saturday would be at the discretion of the House members.”

Lovely, a legislator from Gandhi Nagar, said, “The House has been convened to pass a bill to provide Rs 372 crore to private power companies as subsidy.” The government has colluded with private discoms and is offering them a largesse, he said. 

Lovely made it clear that Congress will continue to support the AAP government on its 18-point agenda. “We will also back the anti-graft bill if it is brought in the House in a constitutional manner,” he said.

He said that according to his sources, several MLAs of the AAP government were unhappy with its performance and were considering to leave the ruling party.

The AAP minority government has the support of 35 legislators, including the Speaker, in a 70-member House. Getting a bill passed in the Assembly will be a challenge for the Kejriwal government.

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